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06 May 2009

Nominating decision-makers

A healthcare proxy is an agent (a person) appointed to make a patient's medical decisions if the patient is unable to do so.

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A healthcare proxy is an agent (a person) appointed to make a patient's medical decisions if the patient is unable to do so.

Generally, people assign someone they know well and trust to represent their preferences when they can no longer do so.

Patients should be sure to ask this person for agreement to act as their agent. An agent may have to exercise judgment in the event of a medical decision for which the patient's wishes are not known.

The durable power of attorney for healthcare is the legal document that names a patient's healthcare proxy. Once written, it should be signed, dated, witnessed, notarised, copied, distributed, and incorporated into the patient's medical record.

Patients may also want to appoint someone to manage their financial affairs if they cannot. This is called a durable power of attorney for finances, and is a separate legal document from the durable power of attorney for health care. Patients may choose the same person or someone different from their health care proxy to act as their agent in financial matters.

Sources:
http://www.cancer.gov
http://www.cancercare.org/

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