In the case of a healthcare representative, responsibility will be assigned to a trusted loved one. However, with an advance directive, your decisions regarding medical intervention and end-of-life preferences are clearly indicated in a legally binding document and not in a living person. Advance directives, such as health care powers and living wills, allow people to maintain control over their medical decisions. Massachusetts law allows people to create their own health care powers, but it doesn't officially recognize living wills.
A healthcare proxy appoints another person to make medical decisions if you are unable to do so, and a living will allows you to list the medical treatments you would or would not want to receive if you were terminally ill and unable to make your own decisions. A healthcare proxy allows you to designate someone to make medical decisions on your behalf, in case you are unable to make decisions or are unable to communicate your own wishes. A simple legal document that allows you to name a person you know and trust to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if, for any reason and at any time, you are unable to make or communicate those decisions. Once you've chosen your healthcare representative, tell your family members who you chose and why you chose them to avoid conflict during a crisis.
You can also designate an alternative agent, in case your representative is unavailable or unable to make decisions regarding your care. The health care proxy, MOLST, and advance instructions (or living will) are three documents that allow you to give instructions to medical staff, family members, and friends about your future care when you can't speak for yourself. This is very different from a health care power of attorney, which only takes effect if you can't communicate your wishes for medical care. It is not intended as medical advice and should not be considered as a substitute for consultation with qualified health professionals who are aware of your specific situation.
The power of attorney takes effect when your doctor determines that you cannot make or communicate health care decisions. Also known as a living will, this document sets out your wishes regarding end-of-life medical care, including the treatments you want and don't want. Healthcare providers and facilities are required to follow their agent's decisions as if they were their own. Massachusetts is one of only three states that recognizes health care powers, but doesn't recognize living wills.
Your healthcare agent will be able to tell doctors what medical decisions you want to make when you are unable to do so because of a serious injury or illness. We recommend that you return information and questions to your individual healthcare provider to engage in dialogue and collaboration about your cancer and its treatment. The Health Care Proxy form is used to name a person's health representative if that person is unable to make medical decisions on their own.