If you have ever experienced a close call while driving, you probably thanked your lucky stars that you avoided a disaster and promptly forgot about it.
But what if you become incapacitated in a vehicle crash? Or suffer a stroke? If you have a health care proxy in place, a sudden health emergency can set it in motion.
The Health Care Proxy Law
Under New York’s Health Care Proxy Law, you can appoint a trustworthy relative or close friend to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you become unable to do so. You can give your agent as much responsibility as you wish. Physicians, hospital personnel and other medical providers must follow the instructions your agent provides as if they were your own.
You do not have to be elderly to think about establishing a health care proxy. It is a good idea to have one even if you are a young person. For example, if you need surgery and go under general anesthesia you will be temporarily incapacitated, and your agent could step in. Once you are able to resume making your own health care decisions, you will no longer require his or her assistance.
Your agent, your decisions
You can either discuss medical situations and treatments with your agent or include them in writing in your health care proxy. The agent must follow your instructions, which should include your preferences about long-term care planning and end-of-life decisions. Once you sign your health care proxy, you will enjoy peace of mind, knowing that you might not always be able to avoid a close call.