The Power of a Health Care Agent
When you create a healthcare directive, frequently called a DNR or Do Not Resuscitate, you will need to select up to three people who will be willing to act on your behalf. You will select one primary health care agent along with two other contingency agents. One of these people will make your medical decisions when you have lost the ability to vocalize your own wishes.
Your agent will:
Select the hospital, clinic, or nursing home where you will receive care
Select your doctors
Approve all medical treatments
Decide on post-mortem issues such as organ donation and corporal disposal
Initiate any legal action to ensure your wishes are fulfilled
The person who becomes your health care agent will carry a significant responsibility. Make sure that you ask each person before adding them to your health care plan. In addition, make sure you share the health care plan with each person; one or more may have moral or religious beliefs that are in conflict with your wishes.
Most importantly, create a thorough health care directive. The directive become the guideline by which the agent will make all the decisions. If your directive is incomplete or vague, then the agent will be left to make difficult decisions without your guidance. Work with an estate attorney to ensure that your health care directive is complete and covers all of your final wishes.