Most Advance Medical Directives and Health Care Powers of Attorney contain some guiding language for your representation, to help him/her make medical decisions on your behalf and ease some of the stress such a decision is bound to incur. Here’s a breakdown of how decisions ought to be made under many such documents:
1. What the document says
Simple enough, right? If the Advance Medical Directive states that if the principal is incapacitated with no chance of recovery, as determined by two physicians, then nutrition shall be withheld . . . then a doctor making such a determination should withhold nutrition. Here’s where it gets complicated: suppose you are a doctor treating a patient with severe injuries. Do you really want to be the one making the call that your patient has zero chance of recovery? What if the patient makes a miraculous breakthrough? What if she pops right up out of that hospital bed, marches right down to the courthouse to file papers suing you for removing her nutrition? No thank you, says the doctor. Doctors have a legitimate concern of legal repercussions and are rightfully hesitant to make such irreversible decisions. Getting two of them to agree on it could be exceedingly difficult.
2. What the agent tells the attorney he wants.
Here is where communication is important. No document is going to address all of the potential medical circumstances that could arise. And, as we’ve seen above, encouraging your attending physician to rely on it could prove challenging. Communication with your agent about what quality of life issues are important to you, what standard of care you expect, etc. will be crucial in guiding your agent.
3. What your agent believes you would have wanted.
If the course of treatment is still unclear, an agent must use a little judgment to determine what you would have wanted. He can consider your religious and moral beliefs in making the decision.
4. What your agent believes is in your best interest.
If nothing you’ve discussed is sufficient to guide your agent by this point, he can chose courses of treatment based on what he thinks is in your best interest.
The upshot of all of this, is that a breakdown such as this puts as much authority into your hands, and as little in your agents, as possible. So you know your wishes will be followed as closely as possible, and your agent knows that any decision-making necessary is less a matter of them choosing a course of medical treatment for you, and more a matter of them relaying to the doctor wishes you’ve already expressed. Surely a much easier task for your agent.
If you have questions regarding how to select this agent or are ready to create your own documents, call the Asurest offices to set up an appointment!
This material is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Responses to inquiries, whether by email, telephone, or other means, do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create or imply the existence of an attorney-client relationship.
Disclaimer: This material is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Responses to inquiries, whether by email, telephone, or other means, do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create or imply the existence of an attorney-client relationship.