How to Write a Health Care Proxy

by MSO
hearts lying inside stethoscope

Make sure you name someone who knows you and who you trust as your health care proxy.

A health care proxy is a document that will allow a trusted person to make decisions on your behalf when you lose the ability to make your own decisions. You are encouraged to choose a close family member or someone you trust and it is generally advised that you do not choose a doctor or nurse to be your agent because they rarely know you as a person and may not be a person looking to fight for your best interests. If you do not pick an agent, a close family member will be delegated as one.

Laws for health care proxies vary in each state and province. Most states and provinces stress that this is of great importance, even if one is not in any terminal state of illness. Some jurisdictions have made it compulsory to have a proxy in place since no one can predict when an emergency will occur.

A standardized form is not necessary. In most cases information in the proxy should include the name and address of the agent you choose and an alternative. The duration of the proxy. Special instructions which may include certain treatments that you do not wish to have eg. dialysis, feeding tubes etc. Your name, date address and signature. You may also include your position on tissue and organ donation. Once all the information is complete you will need two adults who will witness the document. Once completed copies should be forwarded to your family, doctors and health care providers and the agent you have chosen.

One must remember that the health care proxy and the appointment of an agent does not take the place of a living will or a “Do Not Resuscitate” form. The health care proxy covers a patient’s care and sustainability, while a DNR is only for life-ending cardiac or respiratory arrest.

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