Your Health Care Power of Attorney

Most people’s estate plans have a “Health Care Power of Attorney” or “Advanced Health Care” document. This document guides the medical practitioner when the patient cannot communicate his or her medical wishes. It is of utmost importance that this Health Care document precisely states the medical care that the patient’s agent can authorize.

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services directly addressed this issue of informed consent. They stated that either the patient or their representative is legally allowed to make decisions about their care. The patient has the right to be informed of their health, to be a part of the treatment discussions, and to either request or deny treatment.

Many health care facilities state that a physician can deny treatment if it is deemed ineffective, but according to the above statement, this should no longer be the case. Each individual is given control over the outcome of their health plans and treatment. It is important to note that this does not, however, give a person the ability to demand medical treatment that is considered medically inappropriate.

Health care facilities’ policies usually provide that the physician has the right to decline the provision of treatment that is medically ineffective. While such permissions recognize the patient's ability to seek out or refuse effective healthcare, they do not authorize a person to demand the provision of treatment or services deemed medically unnecessary or inappropriate. The California probate code reads as follows:

In recognition of the dignity and privacy a person has a right to expect, the law recognizes that an adult has the fundamental right to control the decisions relating to his or her own health care, including the decision to have life-sustaining treatment withheld or withdrawn
Therefore, the surrogate making health care decisions for the patient, must have appropriate instructions to carry out the wishes of the patient. The patient’s desires could result in health care services that may not be paid by the insurance carrier. The patient’s assets may become responsible for the payment of unnecessary health care services. Thus it is important for the health care document to carefully identify exactly what the patient wants his agent to do under such circumstances and not lead the agent in trying to guess what the patient truly desired. It is important to have an Orange County estate planning lawyer on your side like P. Arnsen Blakely (535 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa, CA 92626, 714 556-0800) to review your health care documents and make sure you have correctly drafted instructions for your agent. Give them a call today and make an appointment to go over your estate plans.