If you need medical treatment and can’t speak for yourself, a medical proxy, also known as a healthcare proxy, allows someone to make medical decisions for you.

Here are some details on how a healthcare proxy works, tips for choosing a proxy and more.

How a medical proxy works

A healthcare proxy is a legal document that names a person of your choice to make medical decisions for you if you can’t communicate. A doctor or physician may have to certify that you’re unable to communicate for a proxy to take effect, and the permissions of the agent can depend on your state laws and the terms of your proxy. If you later become able to express your wishes, you will regain full authority over the proxy.

Tips for choosing a healthcare proxy 

Your proxy should be someone you trust to honor your wishes. In addition to a close personal relationship, you should be confident that they communicate clearly, understand medical terms and have knowledge of:

  • Your medical history and conditions
  • Your feelings about healthcare providers and institutions
  • Your attitude toward death and dying
  • Your religious beliefs

Reasons to set up a healthcare proxy

When it comes to your health, it’s important to plan for the future. Here are 2 reasons to set up a healthcare proxy:

  1. If you don’t have a medical proxy in place, the laws of your state could determine who makes medical decisions on your behalf. While most states give permission to close family members, some states grant permission to doctors or hospital administrators.
  2. A healthcare proxy can keep your financial and medical decisions separate. A power of attorney allows an agent to make financial decisions on your behalf. A medical proxy, also known a medical power of attorney, can grant permissions of your medical decisions to someone not connected to your financial interests.

How to get a medical proxy form

According to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, you can get a medical proxy form from:1


Prepare for the unexpected

A medical proxy is a simple, reliable way to make sure your medical wishes are met when you can’t speak for yourself. For more information on being prepared for hospital admission—planned or emergency—check out these tips on preparing for hospitalization.

Sources

  1. “Advance directives & long-term care,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, last accessed August 25, 2020, https://www.medicare.gov/manage-your-health/advance-directives-long-term-care, opens new window.

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