If someone wants to name you as the agent in a Medical Power of Attorney, it is important that you understand what the role entails. Your role only comes into play when the person who named you, known as the principal, cannot make medical decisions on his or her own behalf due to physical or mental reasons.
One thing that will make your job easier, in the event the unexpected occurs, is to understand the values of the principal and to know what treatments he or she wants. It is also important to know what decisions you cannot make for the individual, so you do not overstep your power.
Role of a healthcare agent
According to the Office of the Texas Governor, an individual can name an agent to make medical decisions in the event doctors declare that the principal is in an incapacitated state. A Medical Power of Attorney outlines the patient’s wishes, and you as the agent must comply with these instructions regarding consent to, or refusal of, certain treatments, including those to sustain life.
Discuss values and wishes
Although the Medical POA should include many of the treatment options, there may be some last-minute decision making that the document does not address. To help with this situation, you should have discussions with the principal about religious beliefs and values related to end-of-life treatments. Along with understanding what the individual does and does not want, you can make a more aligned decision if you understand more about why the individual wants certain treatments.
Decisions you may not be able to make
In the Medical POA, the principal can list limitations to the power you have as the agent. Even without any limitations listed, there are certain things that an agent cannot make decisions about, including abortion, psychosurgery and convulsive treatment. You also have the fiduciary duty to make decisions that are in the principal’s best interest. You also may not transfer the role of agent to someone else.