A healthcare power of attorney is a legal document that names an agent that has the authority to make medical decisions for you in the event you experience physical or mental incapacitation. Without a POA, you put the decision-making in the hands of others, and they may not follow your wishes.
You can dictate which decisions your agent can make for you. You should also choose an agent that will stand up for what you want.
How to choose your healthcare agent
Even when you discuss the treatments you want or do not want with your agent, this individual may still have to make some decisions you never discussed. As a result, the person you choose should be able to make tough decisions under pressure and feel comfortable asking the medical team questions.
Not everyone will necessarily agree with what you want. Hence, the agent should be able to stand up to those who disagree and defend your wishes.
The Cleveland Clinic states that you should discuss your wishes, beliefs and values with your agent so he or she can make better-informed decisions. You should also talk with your family members and close friends about which treatments you would want.
The State of Ohio Latino Affairs Commission discusses some of the decisions you can authorize your agent to make:
- Consent to administer pain-relieving medication or treatments
- Informed consent for a procedure
- Informed consent for life-sustaining treatments
- Selection of healthcare personnel or facility
You can also cross out any decision you do not authorize your agent to make on your behalf. You should also name an alternate agent in the event your original choice is unavailable.