Selecting A Medical Referee

Make your own strategy.

A person who can make decisions about your health care in the event that you are unable to do so for yourself is known as a health care proxy, sometimes known as a representation, surrogate, or agent. They collaborate closely with your medical team to guarantee that your treatment and care choices are honoured. It can be especially useful to have a proxy in place in case of unforeseen circumstances, such a major auto accident or stroke.

An advance directive known as a durable power of attorney for health care can be used to designate a health care proxy. An advance directive is a legal document that specifies how you should be treated medically. It only takes effect in the event that you are unable to express your own preferences. A living will, another type of advance directive that expresses your preferences for medical care and treatment, may be selected in lieu of or in addition to a proxy.

Cover of advanced care planning guide publication.

Advance Care Planning: A Guide to Discussion

Do you want to know more about making advance care plans? The resource from NIA includes worksheets, conversation starters, and more.

Who is eligible to serve as a proxy for health care?

Most states need a health care proxy to be at least eighteen years old. In Nebraska and Alabama, a proxy has to be at least 19 years old. A proxy must always be of sound mind. While some choose a member of their family, others might select a lawyer, a neighbour, or a reliable acquaintance.

State laws differ widely, but generally speaking, the American Bar Association advises against selecting:

  • Your physician, their spouse, an employee, or an employee’s spouse
  • The person in charge of your care financially is either the owner or operator of your residential care or health institution, or a government employee.
  • An expert assessing your decision-making skills
  • Your conservator or guardian appointed by the court
  • Someone who represents ten or more other persons in matters of health

To confirm your state’s regulations and learn if there are any additional restrictions on who may serve as your proxy, get in touch with your state bar association or legal aid agency. In the unlikely event that your primary proxy becomes unavailable, you may also choose a backup proxy.

Things to think about while selecting a proxy

You should give much thought to the person you designate as your health care proxy. Think about asking the following questions to a few persons you have in mind:

  • Is it comfortable for me to discuss my priorities and wishes for medical care with this person?
  • When the time comes, will this person respect my requests and comply with my requests?
  • Do I put my life in this person’s hands?
  • Is this person able to deal with opposing views from my friends, family, and medical professionals?
  • Is this someone who lives close by, or would they come to be with me if necessary?

It could be a good idea to discuss your wishes with other people before selecting the best proxy for you. Once someone has been chosen to act as your proxy, find out if they are willing to assume the role.

What choices is a health care proxy capable of making?

Only in cases when you are too ill to make decisions for yourself can your proxy act on your behalf. You can designate your proxy’s level of authority over your medical treatment, including whether or not they can make a broad range of decisions or just a select handful. You can also specify other choices, such having your proxy consult with specific family members prior to making a decision, and indicate which decisions you would prefer your doctor to make. To guarantee that your health care proxy can provide you with the finest treatment possible, it’s crucial to allow them some latitude.

State-by-state variations notwithstanding, typical duties of a health care proxy encompass:

  • Selecting the kinds of medical services, treatments, procedures, or care that you receive
  • Knowing your medical providers and the location of your care
  • monitoring data pertaining to your personal affairs, physical or mental health, and medical and hospital records
  • Making choices regarding your body’s post-death disposition, autopsy, tissue and organ donation
    assuming the role of guardian if necessary

Other crucial details to be aware of:

Your health care proxy is subject to alter at any time. Notify your family and medical team of the change and complete a new durable power of attorney for health care document.
If for any reason your proxy isn’t working, you can choose a different one.
Making your choice for a health care proxy official

You must fill out your state’s durable power of attorney for health care form in order to formally make your selection. Your state’s free advance directive forms are available for you to locate, download, and print. Make sure you carefully follow the instructions because you might need to have your paperwork notarized or attested.

Locate the state’s advance directive forms to get started.

After selecting your health care proxy, what should you do?

Once you’ve designated a health care proxy, confirm that they have the appropriate information:

Give them a copy of your living will, the signed durable power of attorney for health care, and any other documents you believe they might require.
Ensure that your proxy is familiar with the names and numbers of your medical providers.
Make sure your healthcare practitioner is aware of the identity and contact details of your proxy.

Don’t forget to maintain the conversation as you go. Inform your proxy of any changes to your decisions and preferences regarding your care. Make time to discuss your wishes with your proxy at least once a year. Tell the person and your healthcare providers if you decide to modify your proxy.

Additionally, you might find interest in
For additional details about selecting a health care proxy

The National Institute on Ageing (NIA) of the NIH is the source of this content. This content is reviewed by NIA scientists and other professionals to make sure it is current and correct.


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