Advanced Health Care Directive
There are many things to take into account when setting up an Advanced Health Care Directive. I have highlighted some of the areas of authority, as well as some of the limitations of this legal document. Feel free to be in touch with your questions. I know it can seem daunting, however, it is wise to prepare, and I will walk you through the process.
What Does an Advanced Health Care Directive Accomplish?
An Advanced Health Care Directive is a power of attorney for medical decisions and will accomplish the following:
- Name an agent to make decisions for the principal in the event that the principal is unable to make such medical decisions
- Give the agent guidance when making decisions
- Direct or opt out of organ donation
- Tell the agent your desires regarding termination of life support
- Give the agent the power to arrange for disposition of remains.
What Can My Agent Do?
Your agent may make all health care decisions that may have to be made unless the form you sign limits the authority of your agent. If you choose not to limit the authority of your agent, your agent will have the right to:
- Consent or refuse consent to any care, treatment, service, or procedure to maintain, diagnose, or otherwise affect a physical or mental condition.
- Select or discharge health care providers and institutions.
- Approve or disapprove diagnostic tests, surgical procedures, and programs of medication.
- Direct the provision, withholding, or withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration and all other forms of health care, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
- Make anatomical gifts, authorize an autopsy, and direct disposition of remains.
What Can My Agent NOT Do?
By law your agent may not commit you to a locked facility, consent to convulsive treatment or psychosurgery, or consent to abortion. These decisions would require a court order.
Who Should be My Agent?
Any individual over the age of eighteen may act as an agent. However, some choices are better than others. The best choice is someone who can follow the wishes of the principal without hesitation and in spite of the agent’s own desires and belief systems. Your health care professional cannot act as an agent.