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What is a power of attorney for health care?

Delaware's Advance Health Care Directive Form allows you to name another individual as an "agent" to make health care decisions for you if you become incapable of making your own decisions.  It also enables you to name an alternate agent to act for you if your first choice is not willing, able, or reasonably available to make decisions for you. This part of the form is a Power of Attorney for Health Care. 

An agent may not be an operator or employee of a residential long-term health care facility at which you are receiving care, unless that person is related to you.

An agent's authority becomes effective if your attending physician determines that you lack the capacity to make your own health care decisions.

The agent's obligation is to make health care decisions for you in accordance with the instructions you have given in your advance directive and any other wishes, to the extent that they are known. To the extent that wishes are unknown, health care decisions made by an agent are to conform as closely as possible with what that agent determines you would have done or intended under the circumstances.  In these situations, the agent will take into account what the he or she determines to be in your best interest, and will consider your personal values to the extent that they are known by the agent.

If you are not in a terminal condition or in a permanently unconscious state, your agent may make all health care decisions for you except for decisions to provide, withhold or withdraw a life sustaining procedure.Unless you limit the agent's authority, he or she  may consent or refuse any care treatment, service, or procedure to maintain, diagnose, or otherwise affect a physical or mental condition (unless it is a life-sustaining procedure or otherwise required by law).  An agent can also select or discharge health care providers and health care institutions.

If you are in a terminal condition or in a permanently unconscious state, your agent may make all health care decisions for you, including consent for or refusal of life-sustaining procedures such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation.  He or she can also direct the providing, withholding or withdrawing of artificial nutrition, hydration, and all other forms of health care.

Power of Attorney for Health Care vs. Durable Power of Attorney

In Delaware, a Power of Attorney for Health Care is different than a Durable Power of Attorney.
A Power of Attorney for Health Care relates to health care decisions, while a Durable Power of Attorney relates to financial matters.

To establish a  Power of Attorney for Health Care, fill out a Delaware Advance Directive Form.
To establish a Durable Power of Attorney, fill out a Delaware Durable Power of Attorney Form.

Last Updated: Tuesday October 12 2010
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