Glossary: Health Care Proxy

This term is used in several states to refer to a person designed to make medical decisions for another person. This authority is also called a Health Care Agent, Health Care Representative.

A health care proxy is designated in a health care power of attorney. When choosing a health care proxy, be sure to select someone you can trust. The person must know everything about your choices and preferences for health care in the event that you are unable to make decisions for yourself.

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You do not need to be terminally ill to designate a health care proxy or for the proxy to make choices in your place. Generally, your proxy will make treatment choices whenever you are disabled and not able to communicate your wishes due to a long-term or short-lived disease or injury. A physician might need to verify that you are disabled before your proxy begins making choices for you. Your proxy might likewise have access to your health records and other details, depending upon the consents you provide. You need to incorporate these in your health care proxy documentation if you desire to impose constraints on what your proxy can see or do.

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