Pennsylvania’s law concerning health care powers of attorney and living wills provides for the following:
A. Allows a health care agent to make health care decisions for the principal, including those relating to life-sustaining treatment.
B. Permits a principal to appoint multiple and successor health care agents.
C. Provides that a principal may override a health care decision of an agent.
D. Sets forth the terms for amending and revoking a health care power of attorney.
E. Provides that a “Living Will” is operative when an individual is in an “end stage medical condition” so as not to prolong the process of dying.
F. Authorizes a designated health care representative to make health care decisions on behalf of the individual.
It is important to set forth your wishes in written instructions in advance by creating a Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will. A health care agent is designated in case the individual becomes incapacitated or is unable to make health care decisions. One should create a Living Will if the person is in an end-stage medical condition. The HIPAA law’s privacy requirements were designed to protect a person’s personal health information.
Without a Health Care Power of Attorney, medical records and information often will not be disclosed upon request due to the HIPAA laws. For that reason, it is important to have a Health
Care Power of Attorney.
Additionally, for those who do not wish to be kept alive on machines, a Living Will is the document that specifies that wish. One should designate who they want to make decisions for them in the document and indicate that they do not want anyone to override their wishes.
What is the difference between a HCPOA and LIVING WILL?
Both the living will and the health care power of attorney are legal documents in Pennsylvania that must be made out at the time that the individual is competent. They are often combined into one document by lawyers in Pennsylvania. They provide individuals with peace of mind relating to future medical issues which may arise. The living will directs your doctor as well as the medical staff caring for you to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment if you are terminally ill and do not have the capacity to make the decision. You may also specify someone else to make the decision for you. Note that as long as you are capable of making your own decisions, you have the power to make your own decisions regardless of what your agent indicates.
The health care power of attorney is just as important as the living will. Your medical treatment and wellbeing will be looked after by someone else. It allows you to designate a person (an “Agent”) who will have the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are otherwise unable to make such decisions.