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 ?
If there's no one you trust to be your health-care proxy, consider tapping a professional.
This problem is especially difficult for families of the developmentally disabled because in many instances, the developmentally disabled person never possessed the capacity to make health-care decisions, nor executed a health-care proxy.
26) Then, in 1992, the Task Force published their report and recommendations for legislation that would address the needs of those who lacked both the capacity to make their own health-care decisions and a health-care proxy.
33) The first requirement for executing a health-care proxy is that the person must be a competent adult.
If an individual is incapacitated and does not have a health-care proxy, the patient's wishes regarding the removal of life-sustaining treatment are subject to judicial review.
A health-care proxy doesn't establish guidelines directly.
But, decisions made by family members who do not have an enforceable health-care proxy are not followed by health-care providers if the providers either question the good faith of the family member or strongly disagree with the medical decision.
If, however, the family member has been made your health-care proxy, health-care providers must treat those decisions as if you made them yourself.
Clearly, the best way to ensure that your personal wishes are not overridden is to draw up a complete set of legally enforceable advance directives, including both living will and health-care proxy documents.
There are several variants of the living will and health-care proxy approaches and even more definitions of terminal illness, brain-dead, and other key terms.

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