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Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

Download a "sample" copy of the Designation of Patient Advocate Form

If you are 18 years and older and "competent", you are the only person who can decide what medical treatment you want and do not want to receive. "Competent" means you understand your condition and the results your decision may have.

The medical staff of Nimkee Memorial Wellness Center encourage you to talk to you medical providers about any questions you may have about your health care and the pros and cons of different kinds of treatment. We encourage you to be your own advocate and make decisions as a competent adult; only you can choose whether to say "yes" or "no".

Someday, you may become too sick due to illness or incapacitated due to an accident or injury to make your own decisions about your medical care. If that happens, then decisions will have to be made for you. If you have not given any instructions, no one will know what you would have decided.

This is why we encourage you to create a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. By creating this document, you can appoint another individual referred to as your "Patient Advocate" to make decisions concerning your care, custody, medical treatment, and mental health treatment when you are unable to participate in medical treatment decisions.

Following are answers to several commonly asked questions about Durable Power of Attorney which we hope will help you to understand your rights.

Who should have a Durable Power of Attorney?

Whether you are 18 years of age or 98 years of age, if you are of sound mind, you should consider completing a Durable Power of Attorney document and designating a "Patient Advocate". If you don’t have advanced directives in place, your family and friends may not be able to honor your wishes.

What is a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care?

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is a legal document that allows you to designate anyone at least eighteen years old to be your "Patient Advocate" to ensure your health care wishes are honored when you are unable to participate in medical treatment decisions. Your written instructions reflect your values, beliefs, and customs that are important to you.

Why have a Durable Power of Attorney?

Many people have strong feelings about the kind of medical care they would like to receive or refuse in certain circumstances. By completing a Durable Power of Attorney form you clearly state your feelings about the health care and treatment you wish to have in advance and you designate a "Patient Advocate" to make those decisions for you in the event you are not able to.

What decisions should I consider?

  • Who would you like to make treatment decisions for you, if you become unable to so?
  • How do you feel about ventilators, surgery, resuscitation (CPR), drugs or tube feeding if you were to become terminally ill? If you were unconscious and not likely to wake up? If you were senile or mentally incompetent?
  • What kind of medical treatment would you want if you had a severe stroke or other medical condition that made you dependant on others for all your care?
  • What sort of mental, physical, or social abilities are important for you to enjoy living?
  • Do you want to receive every treatment your care-givers recommend?

Must I have a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care?

No. You have this option, no one can require you to have a Durable Power of Attorney. You can make your wishes known by talking with your family or doctor or by writing them down, but unless you have a Durable Power of Attorney document completed and signed, a patient advocate does not have legal authority to act for you.

If I complete a Durable Power of Attorney form, can I change my mind later?

Yes. You can change the document at any time. It is a good idea to review your advance directives each year to be sure it still says how you want to be treated and names an advocate you trust.

How can I designate a "Patient Advocate"?

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care information and forms are available at Nimkee Memorial Wellness Center in the Medical Clinic. By completing this form you will express your health care wishes and designate a "Patient Advocate". The form will become a permanent part of your medical record.

If you would like to discuss your questions or concerns about your advanced directives please ask your health care provider or nurse. We want to understand and carry out your choices for health care. Treatment decisions are difficult. We encourage you to think about your wishes in advance, discuss your options with your family, friends, and health care professionals, and make plans for your future health care needs. Your Medical team is always here to assist and guide you. Be proactive!