Health Care Power of Attorney

If you have been admitted to a hospital within the past few years you have probably been asked if you have any Advance Directives. Advance Directives in Ohio can include a Health Care Power of Attorney, a Living Will, or a Do Not Resuscitate Order. Advance Directives keep you in control of choices regarding your medical future. This article will discuss the Health Care Power of Attorney.

The Health Care Power of Attorney is a document that you complete that allows you to name someone to make health care decisions for you if you become unable to make them yourself. This person becomes your attorney-in-fact. A Health Care Power of Attorney does not give your attorney-in-fact control over your financial matters.

As long as you are able to make your own health care decisions, your attorney-in-fact will not be consulted regarding your medical care. Even if your attorney-in-fact has made decisions for you while you were temporarily unconscious or incapacitated, they would no longer be consulted once you regain your decision making ability.

Your attorney-in-fact should be someone that is close enough to you to know your values about quality of life issues. Have discussions with them about what kind of treatments you find acceptable and which ones you would refuse. Your attorney-in-fact should make their decisions based on what you would do if you were making the decisions for yourself.

In general the attorney-in-fact will have the authority to give informed consent, to refuse to give informed consent, or to withdraw informed consent to any care, treatment, service, or procedure to maintain, diagnose, or treat a physical or mental condition. What this means is that your attorney-in-fact can agree to a medical procedure for you, refuse a medical procedure for you, or stop certain medical procedures that have already been started. There are a number of limitations on the authority of the attorney-in-fact which are beyond the scope of this article. The authority and limitations of the attorney-in-fact are included with Ohio’s Health Care Power of Attorney Form.

To designate someone your attorney-in-fact you need to complete the Ohio Health Care Power of Attorney Form. There are pre-printed forms available that you can use by just completing the blank lines and having two people witness your signature on the form. Some people prefer to consult with their attorney so that their questions and individual preferences can be more fully addressed.

If you would like to learn more about Advance Directives or need an Ohio Health Care Power of Attorney Form please ask your CDC Social Worker. They will be happy to assist you.