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Should you have a health care power of attorney?

While most people do not want to plan for the worst, it is a good idea for all adults in Ohio to have someone they trust who can make medical decisions on their behalf should something catastrophic happen. This person is outlined in a legal document called a health care power of attorney or health proxy.  

A health care power of attorney requires the named agent to carry out your instructions as they relate to health care. It is advisable to have a living will along with a HCPOA, as the will covers more comprehensive issues as well end-of-life instructions. Along with physical care instructions, a health care power of attorney can address mental health issues and name a guardian.

When choosing an agent, someone you trust to not only carry out your wishes, but also advocate for those wishes if there are disagreements within your family is critical to select. The chosen person cannot be a member of your medical team, he or she must meet the state's requirements and the agent should be willing to discuss the difficult decisions with you. The considerations you should think about incorporate in your power of attorney include:

  • Resuscitation if your heart stops
  • Use of aggressive antiviral or antibacterial medications
  • Ventilation to assist with breathing
  • Dialysis
  • Feeding tube use
  • The types of comfort care to manage pain
  • Donations of your tissues and organs
  • If you would like to donate your body for research

If you choose a directive to not resuscitate, this should also be included in your living will if you have one.

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