You have the right and responsibility to take an active part in decisions about your medical care, including decisions to accept or refuse medical treatment. You also have the right to prepare what is known as an "Advance Directive" about your care. An Advance Directive is a document in which you make the decisions about your care.
Both a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and a Living Will are types of Advance Directives. The type of Advance Directive you can prepare depends upon the law of the state in which you live (or are hospitalized). We have tried to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about the Advance Directives below.
1. What kind of Advance Directive does Michigan law permit a person to make?
An adult of sound mind may prepare a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. Although there is nothing which prohibits a person from making a Living Will, neither the Michigan courts nor the legislature have approved their use. As such, no one knows whether a court would require a health care provider to follow a Living Will.
2. What is a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care?
A Durable Power of Attorney is a document where a person appoints another (an "attorney in-fact", "agent" or "representative") to act on his/her behalf. A power of attorney is "durable" if it is still valid when a person is not capable of making decisions. A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is a document in which you name another person, such as a family member or a close friend, as your representative (called a "patient advocate") to make decisions about your care, custody and medical treatment if you become unable to do so. It also allows you to give your patient advocate instructions about your medical treatment wishes.
3. What is a Living Will?
A Living Will is a document in which you decide in advance, what kinds of medical treatment you do or do not want to receive if you later become unable to speak or make your own decision. Health care providers then know no matter what, your medical treatment preferences.
4. What kinds of decisions can my patient advocate make on my behalf?
The patient advocate you name in your Durable Power of Attorney can generally make decisions about your care, custody and medical treatment and can make those decisions which you, yourself, could have made if you had been able to participate in your own medical treatment decisions.
However, your patient advocate cannot make decisions on your behalf unless and until you are unable to participate in your own medical treatment decisions. Also, your patient advocate can only make decisions to authorize withdrawal or refusal of medical treatment for you, if you acknowledge that these kinds of decisions will result in your death, and you specifically authorize the patient advocate to make those kinds of decisions.
5. Do I have to make a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care?
No. Preparing a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is a personal decision which is completely up to you.
6. What should I do with my Durable Power of Attorney if I choose to have one?
Make sure that someone, such as a family member, a close friend, or your lawyer knows that you have a Durable Power of Attorney and knows where it is located. You should also let your doctor know. Some doctors may make it part of your medical record. You should also consider the following:
7. What are Advanced Care's policies respecting the Implementation of a Durable Power of Attorney?
- Give a copy to the patient advocate the document appoints.
- Give a copy to anyone who may be affected by your decision to appoint a patient advocate certainly your family members and/or close friends.
- If you enter a nursing home or hospital, make sure the facility has a copy of your Durable Power of Attorney.
- Give a copy of Your Durable Power of Attorney to Advanced Care so that we may respect and carry out your wishes.
It is the agency's policy to respect the medical treatment decisions made by a patient and/or authorized patient advocate, after consultation with a physician, provided that the decision is in accordance with sound medical practice and current ethical standards.
8. How can I prepare a Durable Power of Attorney?
You can prepare a Durable Power of Attorney by consulting with your attorney or preparing it yourself. If you would like more information about Durable Power of Attorney or would like to obtain Durable Power of Attorney forms, contact any of the following:
Your State Representative
PO Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48909-7514
Society for the Right to Die
250 W 57th Street
New York, NY 10107
If you wish to exercise your right to designate a Medical Durable Power of Attorney (MDPOA), bear in mind these facts regarding Michigan's law:
The Michigan Law is a Patient's Rights Act. House Bill #4016, Act #312 of Public Acts of 1990. Advanced Care will make every effort to follow your MDPOA. You must supply us with a current, updated copy for your file. Advanced Cares staff is not allowed to be a witness for a MDPOA. Only persons who are eighteen years of age and older and of sound mind can designate an MDPOA. Advanced Care is required by law to ask you if you have designated an MDPOA.