For many years, medical professionals have encouraged patients to develop advance healthcare directives and set up healthcare proxy documents. With the spread of COVID-19, these recommendations more imperative than ever before.
What is a Healthcare Proxy?
You can establish legal documents allowing another person to serve as your healthcare proxy. Your chosen proxy then has the power to make medical care decisions on your behalf when you are not able to do so.
You may also provide your proxy with advance healthcare directives that provide them with the instructions they need to ensure any decisions they make align with your wishes.
Why is a Healthcare Proxy Needed?
While it should always be a standard of good healthcare for doctors to approach patients about developing advance directives, it is especially important during the pandemic where sudden severe illnesses can occur and become life threatening. Care providers can speak with their patients about which types of critical care best align with their wishes and values, as well as their long-term health goals.
While many people who contract the virus ultimately recover, there are situations in which certain people are at a much higher risk of a negative outcome. This includes elderly and immune compromised people.
In some cases, critical care interventions that a doctor would make for COVID-19 might not align with a patient’s wishes or even be in the patient’s best interest. Having a healthcare proxy available to speak on your behalf can make a big difference in ensuring you get the kind of care you need and want.
Only you can determine the quality of life you are comfortable with maintaining after treatment. Only you can determine what level of independence you would be willing to forego after receiving critical care interventions.
Without a Healthcare Proxy
When there is no healthcare proxy in place, it becomes much more difficult for doctors to proceed. In Massachusetts, the types of medical decisions made without a healthcare proxy will depend largely on the condition of the patient.
For an emergency situation where the patient is in an imminent state, and multiple doctors feel critical care would not produce a positive result, those doctors have the discretion to make a decision in that very moment about how they will proceed.
If a patient in Massachusetts does not have a healthcare proxy and their medical state is not imminent, the hospital will then need to petition the probate courts for a guardian who can make decisions on behalf of the patient. At times like the pandemic, the probate courts may have limited functionality.
Having a healthcare proxy in place is not only beneficial for you as a patient to have someone to represent your interests, but also for healthcare providers to eliminate delays that could prove to be costly.
Creating a Healthcare Proxy
We would appreciate the opportunity to help you create your healthcare proxy and advance directives. Baker Law Group offers a free initial consultation by phone, video, or in person following COVID-19 guidelines.
Attorneys at Baker Law Group
Baker Law Group specializes in Elder Law, Estate Planning and Estate Administration. View attorney profiles.
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