How Do I Get an Advance Medical Directive?

Depending on where you live, an Advance Medical Directive is also commonly known as a Health Care Power of Attorney, a Living Will or a Health Care Proxy.  Whichever term is used, this important document names someone to make medical decisions for you if you become unable to make decisions for yourself.  There are three important parts to this document:


1.  Selecting An Agent.  Should you be unable to make medical decisions for yourself, you may name one or more individuals to do so for you.  You may name several people in succession to make these decisions as well, in case your primary person is not available.  Your Agent will never be consulted unless you are determined by a doctor to be unable to make your own decisions.


2.  Selecting Your Care Preferences.  You can select the type of care you wish to receive in different scenarios.  This portion of the medical directive can be very broad or narrowed down to highly specific situations.  It is your chance to tell your loved ones about the type of care you want to receive in your own words. 


3.  The HIPAA Authorization.  This section allows your named Agent to have access to your medical records.  All Agents should have access to your records to allow them to make the most informed decisions for your care.


Many people are worried about giving up control over their medical care when they sign their Advance Medical Directive.  An Advance Medical Directive is not an 'active' document until a doctor determines that you are unable to make decisions for yourself.  An Agent is not able to step in and take over your care unless your treating physician makes a determination that you have lost the capacity to make decisions for yourself.