A health care power of attorney (or durable power of attorney for health care, sometimes known as a DPOA or health care proxy) is a legal document that authorizes another person (your agent) to obtain your health information and to make health care decisions for you. You can allow your agent to get your health information and comunicate with your health care provider at any time, but health care decisions can be made for you only if and when you cannot make health care decisions for yourself.
A health care power of attorney:
Yes. There are limits to the decisions your agent can make. Your agent cannot:
No. You may appoint any adult you wish as long as it is not your doctor or the administrator of a health care facility in which you are being treated, or any person employed by either your doctor or a health facility in which you are being treated.
Yes, if your mother is unable to make informed health care decisions for herself. Also, you can obtain your mother's health care information if your mother has authorized you to do so through her health care power of attorney.
No. You must use a financial power of attorney document to address your mother’s financial affairs. For more information on financial powers of attorney, see the Ohio State Bar Association’s pamphlet, “What you should know about…Financial Powers of Attorney.”
Yes. The health care power of attorney is usually sufficient to avoid the need for a guardian, but you can name ("nominate") guardians through this document. Your guardian should be someone you trust to handle your person, your estate, or both (and those of your minor or adult disabled children). You may also allow the guardian you name to nominate a successor guardian.
Ohio law also allows for the creation of a “declaration of mental health treatment,” a document specifically designed to address mental health care concerns. The standard health care power of attorney addresses both physical and mental health issues, but it may be advisable to also have a “declaration of mental health treatment” to indicate strong preferences about certain treatments, medications or doctors. For more information about the declaration of mental health treatment, visit the Disability Rights Ohio website at www.disabilityrightsohio.org and type “declaration of mental health treatment” in the search box.
A living will is a legal document you can use to set forth your directions about the use or non-use of artificial life-sustaining support if you become terminally ill or permanently unconscious. A living will:
Yes. A living will only affects care that artificially or technologically postpones death. It does not affect care that eases pain. For example, you would continue to receive oxygen and medical care including pain medication, spoon feeding and being turned over in bed. Your doctor is required to provide comfort care as long he or she feels it is medically appropriate.
Yes. You can direct your physician to write a DNR (do not resuscitate) order for you if two doctors have agreed that you are either terminally ill or permanently unconscious, and it is medically appropriate. For more information about DNR orders, see the Ohio State Bar Association’s publication, “What you should know about…DNR Orders” or visit the Ohio Department of Health website at www.odh.ohio.gov (phone: 614-466-3975).
Your doctor will avoid life-sustaining treatment including CPR and technologically supplied nutrition and hydration; and he or she will issue a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order. Your doctor will also keep you as comfortable and pain-free as possible. In other words, you will be allowed to die naturally.
Your doctor will avoid life-sustaining treatment, including CPR, but will continue to provide technologically supplied nutrition and hydration unless your living will document says it should be withdrawn or withheld. Your doctor will continue efforts to keep you comfortable and pain-free.
Yes. You should also talk with your physician about your decision.
If you have indicated you do not want to prolong suffering in order to maintain life through artificial means (e.g., breathing tube, dialysis, IV nutrition, etc.,) and would choose to allow a natural death, two doctors who have examined you must agree you have a terminal condition or illness. A terminal disease, injury or illness is an irreversible, incurable condition that will result in death regardless of treatment. “Permanently unconscious state” means you are permanently unaware of yourself and your surroundings.
A living will can give you and your family peace of mind whether you are 25 or 75 years of age. Traffic accidents are still a leading cause of disability and death among young Ohioans. The Terri Schiavo case illustrates the importance of these documents and decisions for young adults as well as for older people. Terri Schiavo did not have a living will. Several months following massive brain damage from cardiac arrest in 1990, doctors determined she was in a “vegetative state,” but a court battle lasted until 2005 over whether or not life support should be continued.
Very likely, yes. Although doctors do not need your family’s permission to follow the instructions provided through your living will, they must make reasonable efforts to notify a person named in your living will before following your instructions to withdraw life-support. If the person notified feels your living will is not being properly followed, or is not legally valid, an immediate hearing can be scheduled in probate court to decide if there is a legal reason why your instructions should not be followed. By law, no one can change or overrule your living will if it was freely and correctly executed.
Yes. Many people will want to have both documents, because a living will only applies in limited end-of-life circumstances, whereas a health care power of attorney covers all other situations concerning your medical care whenever you cannot make health care decisions for yourself. If, however, you choose to have only a health care power of attorney, you can give your agent the authority to make end-of-life decisions.
Yes, if you spell this out in your health care power of attorney. Many people use a living will to dictate their end-of-life instructions, but if you choose to have only a health care power of attorney, you can give your agent the power to make all health care decisions, including the use or termination of life-support and artificial nutrition and hydration.
The Ohio State Bar Association has developed standard forms with the Midwest Care Alliance, the Ohio State Medical Association, the Ohio Hospital Association and the Ohio Osteopathic Association to make it easier for those who choose to have these documents. You may obtain a copy of these forms by mailing a request along with $4 to LeadingAge Ohio (formerly Midwest Care Alliance), 2233 North Bank Dr., Columbus, OH 43220, or by visiting that organization’s website at www.midwestcarealliance.org. You may also be able to obtain a copy of these forms from a vairty of other organizations or from your physician or attorney.
You do not have to use any forms. However, to be valid, forms for health care powers of attorney and living wills must include specific language spelled out in the Ohio Revised Code.
Make several copies. Give one to a trusted member of your family. Keep another with your personal papers. Leave copies with your physician and your lawyer, and, perhaps, your clergy person. Be sure to give a copy of your health care power of attorney document to the person you have designated to be your agent.
© April 2016 Ohio State Bar Association. Used with permission.
Document last updated 4/8/2016. Please note: The Ohio State Bar Association periodically updates its LawFacts Pamphlets. For updated or additional information, please visit the LawFacts Pamphlets webpage.
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