What is a healthcare power of attorney?
A healthcare power of attorney (“POA”) is a legal instrument that allows you to select the person that you want to make healthcare decisions for you if and when you become unable to make them for yourself. The person you pick is your agent/representative for purposes of healthcare decision-making.
What types of healthcare decisions can be covered by POA?
A POA can govern any kind of decision that is related to your health that you allow. You could, for example, limit your representative to certain types of decisions. Or, you could allow your representative to make any healthcare decision that might come up. This includes decisions to, say, give, withhold, or withdraw informed consent to any type of health care, including but not limited to, medical and surgical treatments. Other decisions which may be included are psychiatric treatment, nursing care, hospitalization, treatment in a nursing home, home health care, and organ donation.
How is a healthcare POA different from a living will?
A living will is a statement of decisions you made for yourself. It tells medical care providers, for example, that you do not want to be kept alive by machines, if there is no hope of getting better. A healthcare POA gives someone else the authority to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself. The healthcare POA allows you to pick the person that you trust to make to these kinds of decisions when you cannot make them yourself.
Do I still need a living will if I have a healthcare POA?
Yes. Any decisions that you make in your living will must be followed by the person you name as your agent in your healthcare POA.
When would I use a healthcare POA?
A healthcare POA is used when you become unable to make healthcare decisions for yourself. This can be so important, that your agent is able to make decisions – and access records, communicate with healthcare providers, and so on.
Do you have a healthcare POA? Why or why not? Let me know your thoughts.