Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Health Care Agent

What is a health care agent?

A health care agent is a person you choose in advance to make health care decisions for you in the event that you become unable to do so. A health care agent can help make medical decisions on your behalf at the end of life or any other time you are not able to communicate, such as if you are severely injured in an accident. A health care agent also may be called a health care proxy or surrogate or an attorney-in-fact.
State laws vary regarding the specific types of decisions health care agents can make. Generally, a health care agent can agree to or refuse treatment and can withdraw treatment on your behalf. Your health care agent can use the information in your living will (also called a treatment directive), statements made by you in the past, and what he or she knows about you personally to make these decisions. For example, your agent can consent to surgery, refuse to have you placed on life-support machines, or request that you be taken off life support.

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