What is a Health Care Proxy?

A health care proxy (also referred to as a durable power of attorney for health care) is a document that appoints someone to make medical decisions for you, if you are in a situation where you can’t make them yourself. It is extremely important to include specific instructions and guidance to your health care agent in this document. Failure to include your particular wishes may lead to consequences that you did want. Moreover, you must choose your proxy thoughtfully since he/she will be acting on your behalf.  After appointing your proxy it is important to discuss your wishes with them about your medical care, including resuscitation, artificial nutrition and hydration and personal goals for quality of life. Knowledge of your wishes and specific instruction in the document itself will help guide the decisions your proxy will have to make with your medical team. Knowing that any decisions made are based on your personal values and wishes will be a comfort to family and friends during a stressful time.

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