Durable Power of Attorney and Medical Decisions
Understanding the Limits of a Durable Power of Attorney: Medical Decision Making
The difference between a durable power of attorney and a health care proxy can get confusing, particularly since different terms are used in different states. For example, in some states what we know as a health care proxy is called a medical power of attorney.
In Massachusetts, these are two distinct documents. A health care provider cannot rely on a power of attorney to accept someone else making decisions for you- it needs to be a health care proxy.
An important and often overlooked additional fact is that health care providers cannot share your medical information with a family information without a health care proxy which specifically gives your consent to the sharing of information. If they are following HIPPA rules, they will not share this information based upon a power of attorney.
As a practical matter, access to this information is at least as important as the authority to make decisions, so that the person you have entrusted with this job is as fully informed as you would be if you were able.
Learn more here about health care proxies under Massachusetts law.
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