People often use the term “power of attorney” as a blanket phrase. They say it to describe any situation where one adult has power over another. This is an easy mistake, as most people get the general idea.
Technically, however, there are often different legal terms to describe different powers. In California, for instance, an “advanced healthcare directive” specifically hands your medical decisions over to another adult. The person with this authority is called the “healthcare proxy.”
The idea of needing such a directive can make many people nervous. It raises uncomfortable questions. Will the healthcare proxy be allowed to end your life support? Can they deny treatments that medical professionals believe are necessary?
The good news is this: You can control exactly how much power goes to your healthcare proxy.
Here are some examples of powers someone with medical authority can have.
A Healthcare Proxy Can Manage Your Regular Treatments
Your healthcare proxy, the person with medical authority over you, can help make sure you receive the regular treatments you need.
Proxies can make appointments for you. Doctors and other professionals can give your results directly to your proxy. They can work with your proxy, giving them the instructions you need for diet, exercise, prescriptions, medical devices, and so on.
A Healthcare Proxy Can Manage Your Prescriptions
Anyone who takes multiple medications knows how difficult it is to manage all those drugs. Simply keeping current with your prescriptions is a chore. You must call them in, pick them up, suffer delays, and more.
Furthermore, many people must argue over prescriptions. Doctors may prescribe something that won’t work for you or can have a bad interaction with another necessary drug. When it comes to your medicine, you must often advocate for yourself.
If you require a healthcare proxy, they can take over this responsibility for you. They can manage which prescriptions you take, working closely with doctors to keep everything filled and current. When necessary, they can argue with the doctors to make sure you are receiving the proper care.
A Healthcare Proxy Can Consent to Medical Procedures
It’s always a big deal when you must be put to sleep for a procedure. There is an inherent danger to the process, which is why operating rooms have separate anesthesiologists monitoring your vital signs. Going in for such procedures requires paperwork, scheduling, and insurance approval.
Furthermore, you must secure travel to and from the procedure from someone you trust. You must hand their information over to the healthcare facility as well.
It’s a lot of work, and a healthcare proxy can do it all for you. Moreover, they can consent to the procedure itself. You can take comfort in the fact that your proxy is working closely with your doctors. They are making sure that all procedures and surgeries are necessary, and they can allow the doctors to move forward.
A Healthcare Proxy Can Make Life-Support Decisions
Most of us have strong opinions about being kept on life support, one way or another. Many people want to be kept artificially alive only if there is the hope of a full resuscitation. Others want to be kept alive as long as possible, no matter what.
With an advanced healthcare directive, you can put your wishes in writing. Your proxy cannot go against these wishes without going through several burdensome legal steps. They must officially challenge the directive, receive a ruling from a judge, and more. A tightly written directive can be virtually impenetrable, ensuring your wishes are carried out correctly.
Creating an Advanced Healthcare Directive
To repeat, your healthcare proxy has only the authority that you give them. If any of the above powers make you uncomfortable, you don’t need to include them in your directive. This plan is there to take care of you when you cannot care for yourself. It is not intended to leave you at someone else’s mercy.
Therefore, you must create your healthcare directive now, while you have your faculties. You can carefully consider exactly what authority you want to give to another person.
Furthermore, you need to include an attorney in the process. You need a legal professional who can help you craft a directive that locks your desires in place, making them hard to challenge or overturn.
A lawyer can also help you vet potential healthcare proxies, giving you peace of mind about who gets to look after you. They may be able to help build safeguards into your plan. These can help you remove and replace an untrustworthy proxy. You may even be able to add stipulations that can revoke your plan when necessary.
In our next article, we will discuss the authority of powers of attorney.
For help with advanced healthcare directives, contact our firm. You can reach us online or by calling (916) 299-3936.