While the Covid pandemic has taught us all many lessons, one of the most important things we should acknowledge moving forward is that life can be incredibly unexpected. With this knowledge, it is important to plan to the future, especially situations which may be out of our control.
None of us plan to get sick, and most avoid the hospital at all costs, however there may still be times where avoidance is simply is not an option. Plan now, so you can go into these unexpected times with confidence that you can advocate for yourself and your loved ones. One of the simplest ways you can do this is by establishing a Healthcare Proxy (also referred to as a Medical Power of Attorney). A Healthcare Proxy is a person you designate to implement healthcare decisions on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated or unable to make informed decisions.
Your Primary Care Physician (PCP) should have these forms available in their office, you can also choose to visit a local estate planning attorney to have one drafted, or even create one yourself, for free, using a website such as this document building tool from Rocketlawyer.com:
Follow these easy steps to ensure your healthcare proxy is acknowledged when needed most:
If you already have a healthcare proxy (or medical power of attorney), check that it is updated.
Pick an alternate proxy in the event your original is unavailable during your time of need.
Ensure your proxy specifically outlines any medical treatments you do not consent to.
While not all states require it, it’s a good idea to have your proxy notarized.
Share a copy with your emergency contacts and make sure they know to bring it to the hospital in case of emergency.
Keep a copy of your advanced directives on your fridge. (Most first responders are trained to check the fridge.)
Ask your doctor’s office to keep a copy in your medical file.
Keep a copy in the glove box of your car.
NOTE: If you have had an encounter with a hospital where they refuse to follow the wishes of yourself or a loved one, consult with an attorney as soon as possible. For more resources on handling a situation in which a hospital refuses to follow a healthcare proxy, see our Medical Kidnapping 101 guide.