An avalanche of unnecessary medical care is harming patients physically and financially. What can we do about it?
Drafting an Advance Directive
- A living will spells out what types of medical treatment you want at the end of life if you are unable to speak for yourself.
- A health care power of attorney is someone you appoint to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. That agent (also called an attorney-in-fact or proxy) becomes your spokesman and advocate on all the medical treatments you address in the document.
One state's advance directive doesn't always work in other states. If you spend significant time in several states, you should complete advance directives for each state.
An advance directive does not expire. It remains in effect until you change or rescind it. If you want to make changes, you should complete a new document.
To download a free advanced directive form for your state, click here.
Health Care Power Of Attorney
Your healthcare agent makes decisions only when you cannot communicate them yourself. If you regain the ability to make decisions, your agent may no longer act on your behalf.
Your healthcare "attorney" need not be a lawyer. You'll likely name a family member or close friend whom you trust to make serious decisions. That person should clearly understand your wishes and be willing to accept the responsibility for making medical decisions for you.
Before your health care proxy can take over and make medical decisions on your behalf, two physicians must certify that:
- You are unable to make medical decisions, and
- You are in the medical condition specified in your state's living will law (such as "terminal illness" or "permanent unconsciousness").