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What is a health proxy?

On Behalf of | Jul 18, 2019 | Estate Planning

There are many things to consider about estate planning in Indiana. One part of the process is to name a health proxy or power of attorney regarding healthcare decisions. Some people may not think this is important, but there are numerous reasons why someone should have a health proxy.

According to the Mayo Clinic, a health proxy is a type of advance directive that allows for someone else to make medical decisions when a patient is unable to. All adults should have one, as an emergency situation can come along at any time. Other names for a proxy include agent, patient advocate, surrogate, representative and attorney-in-fact. Once named, a health care proxy cannot make any decisions for the patient unless the doctor provides written proof the patient is unable to decide for him or herself.

The agent will be in charge of making numerous decisions, and it is important the patient sit down and think through many different scenarios. If questioning anything, the patient should ask the doctor about things such as ventilation, feeding tubes, CPR, dialysis and comfort care.

Because of the difficult decisions a proxy needs to make, Forbes discusses that it is important to choose the right person for the job. The person should:

  • Have the guts to stand up for the patient’s wishes, even when other family members disagree
  • Be comfortable asking the medical team questions 
  • Be able to make decisions and not let emotions get in the way
  • Be trustworthy

The patient should discuss all these things with a potential power of attorney and make sure he or she understands fully what the patient wants.



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