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Advance Directives (cont.)

A Health Care Surrogate

You can select just about any adult to be your attorney-in-fact (surrogate). Select someone who is aware of your wishes and values and whom you trust will be able to make the decisions (regardless of how difficult) at a time when needed. You should discuss all your wishes with your surrogate and be certain that they clearly understand what you desire. Be sure they are willing to accept this responsibility.

You can select a spouse, adult child or sibling, or even a close friend. You should not select your doctor, your doctor's employees, or any staff of a facility where you live (such as a nursing home, hospice, or assisted living facility) because of a possible conflict of interest regarding the type of care you would or would not receive.

  • The surrogate can only make decisions for you when you are temporarily or permanently unable to make your own health care decisions. As long as you have the ability to make your own decisions, you retain the right to do so. If you are temporarily unable to make decisions and then regain the ability to do so, then your surrogate no longer has decision-making capability.
  • An attorney-in-fact (surrogate) can make just about any treatment or procedure decision that is consistent with accepted medical practice and consistent with your wishes. Some states have restrictions in which a surrogate cannot make decisions regarding experimental treatment, sterilization, abortion, or electroshock therapy.
  • You should only appoint one person to be your surrogate, but others may be selected to serve as alternates in the event the person you have chosen is unavailable or unable to make decisions.
  • Surrogates cannot be held liable for decisions made regarding your care or for costs associated with medical care.

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