Health Care Proxy
The Health Care Proxy is a simple legal document, valid in Massachusetts, which allows you to name a person (called an “agent”) to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make or communicate those decisions. These decisions may include life-saving procedures such as CPR, life-sustaining treatments such as tube feedings and respirators, as well as other procedures such as consent for surgery, blood transfusions, pain medications and other routine tests. The health Care Proxy is an important document because it concerns not only the choices you want made about your health care, but also the relationships you have with your physician and your family regarding your medical care.In Massachusetts, the Living Will is not a replacement for a Health Care Proxy, as in other states. The person you choose as your Health Care Proxy should be someone who knows what decisions you would make for yourself if you were able to do so. Most people choose a relative or close friend. Anyone over the age of eighteen (18) can be appointed as your “agent” except the administrator, operator or employee of a health care facility such as a hospital or nursing home where you are a patient or resident unless that person is also related to you by blood, marriage or adoption.
An “agent” cannot act for you until your doctor determines, in writing, that you lack the ability to make health care decisions. Your doctor will tell you of this if there is any sign that you would understand it. At that point, if you lack the ability to make your own health care decisions, your agent, acting with your authority granted in the Health Care Proxy, can make any health care decision that you could, if you were able. Your agent should only make decisions for you only after consulting with your doctor or health care provider, and after fully considering all the option regarding diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of your illness or condition. Your Agent has the legal right to get any information, including confidential medical information, necessary to make informed decisions for you.
Your Agent’s decisions will have the same authority as yours would, if you were able, and will be honored over those of any other person, except for nay limitation you yourself made, or except for a Court Order specifically overriding the Proxy.