Skip to content
Font Size
A
A
A

Health Care Agents - Appointing One and Being One

How do I make decisions as a health care agent?

Generally, you will be required, as far as possible, to make the same medical decisions that the patient would have made. To do this you might need to examine any specific statements that the patient made (either orally or in writing, such as in a living will), as well as consider the patient's beliefs and values.

If you have no information about what the patient would want, you must act in what you believe would be in the patient's best interest, using your own judgment. To arrive at that decision, you might ask the patient's doctors what kind of benefits and burdens might result from the treatment; you can draw on knowledge that others have about the patient and on their opinions; or you can ask others what they would want if they were in such a situation. However, the more you and the patient have talked, the less likely you will be in the dark about what the patient would want.

Recommended Related to Healthy Seniors

Exercises to Lower Your Blood Sugar

It’s never too late to reap the benefits of exercise, whether you’re 45 or 95. First of all, it simply makes you feel good to move. By becoming more active, you can also lower your blood sugar to keep diabetes under control. “You don’t need to run a marathon to get results,” says Dawn Sherr, RD, of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. “Walking, swimming, and playing with the grandkids are all great ways to get exercise.” Follow these four steps to get started.

Read the Exercises to Lower Your Blood Sugar article > >

When would I be asked to make decisions?

Normally the agent becomes the decision maker after the attending physician determines that the patient either temporarily or permanently lacks the ability to make health care decisions. Many states also require that a second physician confirm the patient's incapacity if the decision involves withholding or withdrawing life support treatments.

What do I need to know to make decisions?

You need to gather as much information as possible about the patient's condition. What is wrong with the patient (the diagnosis)? What is likely to happen to the patient because of the disease or medical condition (the prognosis)? If the doctors are unsure of the diagnosis or prognosis, you need to know when they will know more and what they are doing to get more information.

Sometimes the process of obtaining information involves invasive and uncomfortable testing, and you will need to decide if the process should go forward. For example, you may know that the patient would not have wanted invasive testing, or you may decide that the burdens of testing and or treatment outweigh any likely benefits.

1 | 2 | 3

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

disciplining a boy
Types, symptoms, causes.
psoriasis
What it looks like.
fruit drinks
Eat these to think better.
No gym workout
Moves to help control blood sugar.
acupuncture needle on shoulder
10 tips to look and feel good.
Close up of eye
12 reasons you're distracted.
Epinephrine Injection using Auto-Injector Syringe
Life-threatening triggers.
woman biting a big ice cube
Habits that wreck your teeth.
embarrassed woman
Do you feel guilty after eating?
pacemaker next to xray
Treatment options.
caregiver with parent
10 tips for daily life.
birth control pills
Which kind is right for you?

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.