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A health care agent is a person chosen to make medical decisions
for another, should a severe illness or injury occur that makes communication
impossible. The document that grants this decision-making power to the person
selected is called a medical power of attorney.
A health care agent may also be called a health care proxy or
surrogate or an attorney-in-fact.
Although laws vary by state, a health care agent can usually make
medical treatment decisions at the end of life or anytime a person is not able
to communicate. As soon as a person selects a health care agent, it is
important to thoroughly discuss and document medical care preferences, such as
when to continue or abandon life-support measures.
Current as of:
February 20, 2015
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Shelly R. Garone, MD, FACP - Palliative Medicine
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