The Functionality of a Medical Power Of Attorney Form

A Medical Power of Attorney is a form of “advance order” that allows you to name someone you trust (an agent) to communicate with your healthcare services and make health-care decisions on your behalf (the principal) while you are unable to do so.

If you ever need one, free blank printable forms of this kind are available for you to print and fill out manually. You can fill these out digitally as well.

Facts and information you need to know about these forms

Do you really need this kind of Power of Attorney?

This informs healthcare professionals who you choose to make healthcare choices on your behalf. This differs from a General Power of Attorney in that it deals with healthcare decisions.

Are these forms different from Durable Power Of Attorney Forms?

A Medical Power of Attorney empowers the lawyer to make medical decisions on your behalf. A general lasting power of attorney allows the agent to make financial decisions but does not normally allow the client to make health-care decisions.

When can your agent use these forms?

Your “agent” is the one you want to make health-care choices on your behalf while you are unable to. Except in the following cases, any capable adult may act as your agent:

  • A doctor or other healthcare professional
  • a member of the doctor’s or health-care provider’s staff (unless the employee is your relative)
  • Your health-care provider in your house 
  • Your residential health care provider’s employee (unless the employee is your relative)

You can pick someone you can trust to carry out your instructions. You want someone who understands your needs (including your ideals, religious, and moral beliefs) and believes your medical decisions are in your best interests.

Your agent will only make medical choices for you if you are unable to make them yourself. The doctor must state in writing that you are unable to make decisions on your health treatment.

Your personal file would include the required certification. The agent will only make these decisions for you before you regain the ability to do so yourself. Your Medical Power of Attorney may be revoked (canceled) at any time.

How long does a Medical Power of Attorney form last?

When the doctor states in writing that you can’t make personal choices by yourself, you’ll need a Medical Power of Attorney. It will last until you can :

  • Make your own legal decisions 
  • Withdraw (cancel) it
  • Fill out new forms and choose a new lawyer

It will last until the termination date arrives. If the power of attorney fails when you are incapacitated, it will remain in place until you become capable or terminate it.

What decisions can an agent make with Medical Power of Attorney forms?

Unless the agent’s rights are limited by the forms, they can make any medical decisions for you. However, the agent is unable to:

  • Agree to be admitted to a mental health facility
  • Consent to convulsive therapy or psychosurgery
  • Consent to an abortion
  • Refuse comfort care.

How do I revoke these forms?

If you are unable to make your own personal decisions, you may terminate a Medical Power of Attorney. You can cancel it by:

  • Inform the agent, either in person or in writing
  • Inform the doctor or residential care provider, either in person or in writing
  • Do anything to demonstrate that you wish to revoke the authority, or
  • A new Medical Power of Attorney must be signed.

If your partner serves as your agent, your Medical Power of Attorney will immediately terminate if you divorce.

What is the difference between a living will and a Medical Power of Attorney?

A living will is a Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates. If you become incapacitated, a Directive to Physicians tells the doctor what sort of medical treatment you expect and lists any medical treatments you don’t want to get done to you.

You may state in a Directive to Physicians, for example, that you do not wish to be placed on a ventilator (artificial breathing machine).

Many patients want to have a Medical Power of Attorney and a Directive to Physicians. If you have two and they disagree, doctors will choose the most recent one, which is the text that was executed later in time controls.

What is the difference between Medical Power of Attorney forms and Out-of-Hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate orders?

The key distinction is the scope of medical treatments covered by the papers. Should you suffer from respiratory or cardiac arrest, an Out-of-Hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate Order (or OOH-DNR) allows you to deny the following life-sustaining services in out-of-hospital environments:

  • CPR
  • Advanced airway control 
  • Artificial breathing
  • Defibrillation
  • Transcutaneous heart pacing
  • Other life-saving therapies

The Medical Power of Attorney, on the other hand, is not limited to the treatments listed above. If your agent’s judgment conflicts with your OOH-DNR, the OOH-DNR takes precedence; if your agent’s decision conflicts with your OOH-DNR, the OOH-DNR takes precedence.

Can you object to receiving or withholding treatment?

Yes, as long as you can express your desires. And if the lawyer has a Medical Power of Attorney, even if you are unable to make medical decisions, your interests must be respected.

Does the agent have to take responsibility for decisions about your health care?

If your agent acts following your power of attorney and takes medical decisions in good conscience, they cannot be found criminally liable for their actions.

Do you have to pay for the medical care authorized by my agent?

Yes,  if you or your agent requests medical treatment, you are responsible for covering the bills.