Choosing your health care agent


How do I choose a healthcare agent

As part of preparing for when you have a serious illness, you may want to think about choosing a health care agent who can make health care decisions for you in the event that you are unable to do so. Your health care agent may need to make some difficult decisions about your medical treatment, so this should be someone you trust. You’ll want to share your preferences, values, and concerns with this person so they know what kind of care you want.

Know when to choose a health care agent

Who is considered a healthcare agent?

If you’re unable to make decisions about your health care, you have the right to name someone you trust to do it for you. The person you choose should be someone who knows what is important to you and your family. This could be a spouse, partner, adult child, relative or close friend. If none of these people is available, some states allow your health care institution—such as a facility or home where you may live—to name a representative for this purpose.

What are the responsibilities of a health care agent?

The law requires that health care agents be at least 18 years old and that they act with your best interest in mind. A health care agent may make decisions for you only if he or she has been appointed by a hospital or by a licensed nursing facility, and if the law allows him or her to make medical decisions when the hospital, nursing facility, other physician or other individuals who is allowed to make medical decisions cannot.

How do I choose a healthcare agent?

Five Steps towards Choosing your health care agent:
  • Step 1: Write a document identifying who will be your health care agent. This is usually a document called a “durable power of attorney for health care” or “medical power of attorney.” These documents may also be referred to as “health care proxies.”
  • Step 2: Give your health care agent as much information as possible about the kind of medical treatment you want or don’t want.
  • Step 3: Explain your views about organ donation and withdrawal.
  • Step 4: Inform your health care agent if you are married, have a partner or want to start a relationship with another person.
  • Step 5: If you get married or begin a new relationship, ask each person involved if he or she is willing to be your health care agent.

Appointing a healthcare agent is a crucial part of advance care planning. Learn all about the role of health care agent if you can’t make healthcare decisions for yourself.