Even if you are healthy, it is advisable to create an advance directive. With an advance directive, you tell doctors about the medical procedures you both want and do not want them to use to save your life. If you cannot make your own medical decisions, you probably also want to have a health care proxy.
A health care proxy is a person you choose to make medical decisions on your behalf due when you cannot make them for yourself. If you are not mentally capable of advocating for your own health care interests, you allow a trusted relative, friend or another person to do the job for you.
What is informed consent?
If you are thinking about designating a health care proxy, you may worry about losing your right to control your own medical care. This is not an issue, though. After all, your health care proxy only steps in when you cannot give informed consent due to incapacitation.
Informed consent has two equally important parts. First, it requires health care providers to explain your medical options in terms you can understand. Then, you must be able to knowingly accept or reject your doctor’s advice. If you are unconscious or seriously ill, you cannot give informed consent.
What can a health care proxy do?
Your health care proxy can direct your medical care, so you must be certain you choose the right person for the job. When picking your proxy, it is critical to gauge his or her willingness to do what you would do. Still, as long as you are of sound mind, you typically can change your health care proxy at any time.
Ultimately, while the odds of incapacitation may be low, having a health care proxy may be the most effective way to maintain control of your own health care after a catastrophic accident or illness.