I am Named as a Health Care Power of Attorney
A Health Care Power of Attorney, also referred to as a Medical Power of Attorney, is a document that appoints someone else to make decisions and advocate for an individual regarding their medical care.
Once a person reaches the age of 18, this is an important document to execute and have in place. Parents no longer have the right to make decisions on their child's behalf once that child turns 18. A Health Care Power of Attorney document must be in place to grant the power to make medical decisions on their behalf.
Medical emergencies can happen quickly and unexpectedly. It is essential that you have a copy of the Health Care Power of Attorney document that names you as agent and that you understand the powers that are granted to you.
It is also important that your loved one’s doctor and medical facility also have a copy on file. Having these documents handy can save a lot of time when decisions need to be made. Once this document has been signed with the attorney, it is important that your loved one does not accidentally sign a new HCPOA at a healthcare provider's office or the hospital. Signing a new one there will void the carefully drafted one that is currently in place.
It is good that hospitals and doctor's offices have these forms, as they are better than having nothing in place. However, hospital forms are very generic and the facility personnel do not provide any guidance or explanation as to what powers should be granted. A person who has lost capacity or consciousness will be unable to name a Power of Attorney, so it is important not to be reliant on these forms being available at a hospital when a health care need arises.
Roles and Responsibilities of a Health Care Power of Attorney
Your role as a Health Care Power of Attorney is important and comes with a variety of responsibilities. Some examples are:
- Act with care, competence, and diligence.
- Abide by the rules in the person's Living Will or Healthcare Directive.
- Act with their best interests at heart.
It is also important to make sure you have had a conversation, or even several conversations, with them regarding their healthcare and their wishes. Thoroughly discuss their opinions for end-of-life choices and how much medical assistance your loved one wants. It is hard to make tough medical decisions if you are not sure of your loved one’s wishes. Having the memory of this conversation will give you the peace of mind that you have made all the right choices.
Being named as someone’s Health Care Power of Attorney is a very important role. It can also be very difficult. Make sure you have a firm understanding of your authorities, limitations, and, most importantly, the wishes of your loved one. Having all of this knowledge ahead of time will make the job easier.