MEDICAL OR HEALTH CARE POWER OF ATTORNEY
A patient has to give informed consent before any medical procedures can be administered. Section 9 of the Health Act provides that a patient can authorise another person in writing to give consent on his or her behalf when they are unable to give informed consent. This is known as Medical Power of Attorney (Medical POA).
What is a Medical POA
Medical POA is a legal document executed to take effect when a person who had duly appointed an Attorney is unable to give informed consent. This can arise in circumstances where:-
i. The Principal is under general anesthesia.
ii. The Principal suffers from an illness that incapacitates his or her ability to communicate e.g stroke.
iii. The Principal is in a comma or in an unconscious state.
iv. The Principal suffers from a disease that curtails his or her ability to make informed decisions e.g dementia.
Types of medical POA
a. General medical POA – this is where the Attorney is authorised to make all decisions regarding to the principal’s medical care.
b. Specific medical POA – this is where the Attorney is restricted to the nature of medical decisions that he or she can make regarding to the Principal’s medical care.
An attorney can make decisions regarding:-
i. The nature of medical care to be administered, i.e. surgery, medical treatments, medications, home healthcare, resuscitation instructions etc.
ii. The facilities where the medical care is to be administered.
iii. The doctors and other providers to administer medical care.
iv. Where the Principal will live e.g. nursing homes.
v. Caregivers for the Principal’s everyday needs.
How to create a Medical POA
a. Choose your trusted Attorney.
b. Speak to your intended agent beforehand and make sure they are willing to be your agent and to take your best interests at heart when making healthcare decisions for you.
c. Determine the healthcare decisions you want your agent to be able to make i.e general or specific medical POA.
d. Create a Medical Power of Attorney (Medical POA) here.
e. The medical POA should be executed and witnessed by an independent witness.
f. Share a copy of your medical POA with your Attorney.
g. Update your medical POA as your circumstances change – Whenever you amend the POA ensure it is duly executed and witnessed in order to validate the amendments.