Medical Power of Attorney is a legal designation given to a person of your choosing allowing that person (known in Kansas as a “healthcare agent”) to make healthcare decisions for you in the event you become unable to make those decisions yourself. This is a very important decision, but whom should you choose? Let’s talk about the basics of Medical Power of Attorney and factors you should consider before deciding.
Medical Power of Attorney Basics
Who Determines Whether You’re Able Make Your Own Healthcare Decisions?
The person who determines your ability to make healthcare decisions will be your doctor, psychologist or attending nurse. If you are conscious, you will be informed that you have been found to be incapacitated and your healthcare agent will be making all further decisions regarding treatment.
What Healthcare Decisions could be Made by Your Healthcare Agent?
In the event you become medically incapacitated or mentally unfit (rendered unconscious, under anesthesia, suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, etc.) your healthcare agent will make all healthcare decisions that you would normally make. The agent has the responsibility to consent to or withdraw you from any form of healthcare such as medical or surgical treatments, psychiatric care, hospitalization, nursing home care, hospice care, organ donation and more. But the scope of this person’s role can be as broad or narrow as you want it to be.
Can You Name an Alternative or Multiple Healthcare Agents?
You are allowed, and it is good practice, to name a backup agent to take the place of your primary healthcare agent if he or she is unable to serve as your Medical Power of Attorney representative when the time comes. You are also permitted to name more than one person as your primary healthcare agent, but this can be potentially problematic. In naming multiple healthcare agents, there must be agreement by all parties before any treatment can go forward. Any disagreements or argument as to the proper course of action could delay or derail treatment and be detrimental to your care.
How Can You Ensure Your Healthcare Agent Makes Decisions You Agree With?
When you draft your Medical Power of Attorney document, you can write in specific instructions relating to forms of treatment, healthcare scenarios and your own values and beliefs. Ideally you will choose a person who agrees with you on these matters, but it’s still a good ideal to discuss these issues before signing the agreement.
Factors to Consider Before Naming Your Healthcare Agent
Kansas Restrictions on Who Can Be Your Healthcare Agent
In Kansas, your healthcare agent may not be:
- Your attending health care provider
- Any employee of your attending health care provider
- Any employee, owner or an officer of a healthcare facility.
These restrictions don’t apply to relatives by blood, marriage or adoption. They also don’t apply to members of the same religious community of which you belong who are actively involved in conducting religious services, charities, healthcare service or educational programs.
Good Medical Power of Attorney Candidates
In choosing a healthcare agent there are a number of factors to consider before finding the right candidate.
- Proximity – someone who lives near enough to you who could be at your side within a day.
- Trustworthy – someone who is mature and you feel like you could trust with your life.
- Assertiveness – someone who has a strong will and can handle the gravity of the situation and possible dissenting options from family, friends or medical staff.
- Familiarity – someone who knows you best and is in agreement with your values.
- Meets Legal Requirements – someone who meets the Kansas legal requirements.
Will Your Healthcare Agent also be You Financial Agent?
Oftentimes the same person you designate as your healthcare agent will also be designated as your financial agent should you become incapacitated.
If you have any questions about Medical Power of Attorney, contact Oswald Law today at 1-800-894-5931 to schedule a consultation.
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