What is An Agent for Health Care?

What is An Agent for Health CareDeath is inevitable, and when it does come, you might want to be ready for it. But even death is not the worst that could happen. You could be diagnosed with a terminal disease, lose your mental faculties or suffer serious, life-threatening injuries. All of the latter may render you incapable of handling your affairs on your own. In particular, they could render you incapable of determining the course of your treatment as you would prefer it. At worst, the decisions regarding your treatment and end-of-life care could be made by people who do not have your interests at heart. So how can you keep this from happening?

The best way to ensure that your treatment will fall into the right hands and be properly carried out is by creating an advance directive. To be specific, you need to create a particular type of advance directive known as a health care proxy. A health proxy is also alternatively referred to as a medical power of attorney or a durable power of attorney for health care. It is a legal document that hands over the power to make end-of-life care decisions from one person to another. The person creating the health care proxy is called the guarantor while the individual to whom the power is transferred is referred to as the health care agent or the attorney-in-fact.

Once a medical power of attorney has been created, it can only be revoked by the guarantor before that guarantor loses his or her proper abilities. The provisions of a medical power of attorney can be activated, and the agent has to take over in any of the two cases:

  • If it is deemed that the guarantor is not able to understand the health care options available to him/ her. This is common for people suffering from degenerative brain problems like Alzheimer’s who will eventually lose all their mental faculties.
  • If the guarantor is acutely aware of the treatment options but is unable to communicate what, he or she needs. This could happen in cases of severe medical conditions such as paralysis.

Qualities of a good health care agent

As a guarantor, your health care agent is fully in control of your life once the medical power of attorney has been activated. Since you will be relying on someone else to determine when and how you live and die, it is only logical that you take time and choose the right person. To do so, you have to know the qualities of the health care agent. The most important of these qualities necessary are explained below:

  • Trust- always look for someone you can trust and who has your best interests at heart. A relative or friend would be ideal, in this respect, since they know you and can guess what you would want to be done.
  • Availability- make sure that the person you choose will be available if and when called upon. Consider factors like proximity to the health care agent’s residence when making this decision.
  • Capacity- make sure you choose someone who is knowledgeable enough to understand the medical options available and make the right choice for you.

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