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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
or advance health care directive,
legal document in which a person expresses in advance his or her wishes concerning the use of artificial life support and other medical treatment should the person be unable to communicate such wishes due the effects of
..... Click the link for more information. 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.
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