Protecting Your Healthcare Decision Making Rights
By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
November 11, 2021
When it comes to medical treatment, most value their ability to freely make their own healthcare decisions. The bad news is that one day you might lose the capacity to make those choices for yourself. So it’s important to plan for that possibility to protect yourself.
The good news is that you can take control of the future of your healthcare decision-making ahead of time by utilizing two very important documents: a living will and a healthcare power of attorney.
Here’s what you need to know about these documents and how they can help make your wishes known.
A Living Will
A living will is a legal document that outlines your wishes regarding any life-saving treatments or measures you do or do not want from medical staff in order to prolong your life.
They also cover pain management measures for end-of-life treatment and measures of comfort you may want administered to you. Having one will ensure that your physician understands your wishes and administers treatment in accordance with them.
Living wills only come into effect if you are not able to communicate your own wishes, but they are an important document to have if you have a specific idea of how you want those scenarios to play out.
To be valid, a living will must be witnessed by two people. They can also be revoked at any time. Living wills take effect legally as soon as they are signed or when it becomes apparent that a person can no longer communicate their wishes regarding treatment. Rest assured that physicians rely on personal communication as long as possible before turning to a living will.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
A healthcare power of attorney is similar to a living will in some ways. The difference is that it gives another person you have communicated your wishes to the power to make healthcare decisions for you in the event you cannot make them for yourself.
They can dictate your treatments, surgeries, medications, and end-of-life care. The person appointed to make these decisions for you is known as the proxy or healthcare agent. The person you choose to be your proxy won’t have the authority to act unless you are unable to communicate your wishes for care. At that point, they would make medical decisions for you.
Why You Need These Documents
Both of these documents are important to have so that you can receive the care you want even if you cannot communicate it to those around you at the moment. They give you peace of mind that if you become injured or sick no one else has to make tough decisions for you – you’ve already made them for yourself.
Many people also have these documents completed in advance of major medical procedures. If you’re planning to have major surgery, then you cannot give consent under anesthesia, so having a power of attorney in these times is a good idea – and can be revoked after recovery has taken place.
Are you ready to learn more about these options? Let the professionals at Haimo Law help.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
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