Permanent Power of Attorney for Health Care. A permanent power of attorney for health care is a legal document that names a health care proxy, someone who makes medical decisions for you at times when you are unable to do so. Your agent, also known as a representative, substitute, or agent, should be familiar with your values and desires. This means that he or she will be able to decide how you would when decisions about treatment should be made.
A power of attorney can be chosen in addition to or instead of a living will. Having a health care proxy helps you plan for situations that cannot be foreseen, such as a serious car accident. You may also want to prepare documents to express your wishes on a single medical topic or something that is not already covered in your advance directive. Generally, a living will covers only the specific life-sustaining treatments discussed above.
You may want to give your health care representative specific instructions on other topics, such as blood transfusion or kidney dialysis. This is especially important if your doctor suggests that, given your health condition, such treatments may be needed in the future. An ONR (Do Not Resuscitate) order tells the medical staff at a hospital or nursing facility that you do not want them to try to return your heart to a normal rhythm if it stops or beats unsustainably using CPR or other life-sustaining measures. This document is sometimes referred to as a DNAR (do not attempt resuscitation) or AND (allow natural death) order.
Even if a living will says you don't want CPR, it's helpful to have a DNR order as part of your medical record if you're going to a hospital. Placing an ONR next to the bed could prevent confusion in an emergency situation. Without an ONR order, the medical staff will do everything possible to restore normal breathing and heart rhythm. If you decide to choose a proxy, think about the people you know who share your views and values on life and medical decisions.
Your agent can be a family member, a friend, your lawyer, or someone from your social or spiritual community. It's a good idea to also name an alternative proxy. It is especially important to have a detailed living will if you choose not to name a proxy. What kind of medical care would you want to receive if you were too sick or hurt to express your wishes? advance directives are legal documents that allow you to explain in advance your decisions about end-of-life care.
Give you a way to express your wishes to family, friends and health professionals and avoid confusion later. And when you're ready to fill out your advance directives, your health care team may be able to help. Depending on the state, these documents are known as living wills, medical directives, health care powers, or advance health care directives. Emergency personnel, such as paramedics and emergency medical technicians (emergency medical technicians), cannot use advance directives, but they can use a POLST form.
For example, it's probably not unusual for someone to say in conversation, “I don't want to go to a nursing home,” but think carefully if you want a restriction like that in your advance directives. Once you have a living will, health care power of attorney, or advance health care directive, you must keep it among your important documents. After you have completed your advance directives, discuss your decisions with your health care agent, your loved ones, and your doctor to explain what you have decided. Advance directives guide options for doctors and caregivers if you have a terminal illness, a serious injury, are in a coma, in the late stages of dementia or near the end of life.
The most common types of advance directives are the living will and the durable power of attorney for health care (sometimes referred to as a medical power of attorney). Because you may change your advance directives in the future, it's a good idea to keep track of who gets a copy. Some states require your advance directive to be attested; some require your signature to be notarized. All states allow certain types of advance directives, so check your state's laws to make sure you know what's available.
If that's your situation, consider preparing an advance directive using forms for each state and also keep a copy at each location. Under state law, this document may allow you to state whether you want to receive life-sustaining treatment in case you have a terminal illness or injury, decide beforehand whether you want to be given food and water through intravenous devices (tube feeding), and give other medical indications that affect your care, including the end of life. These preferences are often included in an advance directive, a legal document that comes into effect only if you are incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself. You should discuss the changes with your primary care physician and ensure that a new directive replaces an old directive in your medical record.