health-care proxy

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health-care proxy,

legal document in which a person assigns to another person, usually called an agent or proxy, the authority to make medical decisions in case of incapacitation. It is, in essence, a power of attorney for health care. In many cases, the health-care proxy is used in conjunction with a living willliving will,
legal document in which a person expresses in advance his or her wishes concerning the use of artificial life support, to be referred to should the person be unable to communicate such wishes at the end of life.
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 that spells out the person's wishes regarding the extent of life-sustaining treatment desired at the end of life. It differs from a living will, however, in that the chosen agent has the authority to deal with any medical situation that may arise, not just end-of-life situations, and in that the agent can deal with circumstances not foreseen by the person in a living will. A health-care proxy gives a next of kin or other family member additional authority to make decisions; it can also be used to assign authority to someone outside the family. Health-care proxies go into effect when the attending physician determines that the patient lacks the capacity to make decisions. Prior to that time, the person retains all decision-making rights.


See publications of Choice in Dying.

References in periodicals archive ?
It also helps families navigate the difficult end-of-life decisions for their loved ones who never had the chance to obtain a health-care proxy because they were never competent to execute one.
111) Before the passage the Health-Care Decisions Act for Persons With Mental Retardation, New York law required life-sustaining treatment for those without a health-care proxy even if the desired results only prolonged an individual's death with needless suffering.
The legislation does not address similar issues that face those who are not mentally retarded, but who are rendered incompetent because of a physical or mental condition and have failed to execute a health-care proxy.
166) A person is "presumed to be competent," and a health-care proxy is "presumed to be properly executed unless a court determines otherwise.
Maine has legislated its substituted-judgment standard for those who fail to execute a health-care proxy by adopting the UHCDA.
Some states have removed the barriers for surrogate health-care decision making when a health-care proxy is absent, while other states such as New York have resisted allowing surrogates to make these difficult decisions for their principals.
Even though it is difficult to persuade the legislature to change the existing laws, a better resolution for all of New York's citizens on the issue of determining end-of-life decisions when a health-care proxy is unavailable would be for the Legislature to enact the "Family Health-Care Decisions Act.
1999) (dismissing a wife's petition to be appointed as temporary guardian for her incapacitated husband when he had executed a health-care proxy while competent).
The health-care proxy document can incorporate provisions of the living will, requiring the person you name to follow any directives stated in your living will.

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