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Boston Health Care Proxy

A Massachusetts Health Care Proxy is very much like a Power of Attorney – only for healthcare.

The health care proxy allows someone to make medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated.

Without a health care proxy in place, the family has no say in your treatment and can’t even be updated on something as simple as your condition.

The reason why is Federal legislation that protects the privacy of individually identifiable health information.

This legislation is called HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. You’ve probably signed one of these documents at your doctor’s office recently – and when you sign it, you’re limiting what your family can do and what they can be told.

So let’s say you’re involved in an accident or suffer a stroke and are incapacitated. This act stipulates that those treating you can only release information to a health care proxy or guardian. The end result is this – those treating you will get to make the decisions regarding your health care, regardless of what your wishes are or what your family wants. And the only way to resolve this situation is by going to court, which will be costly and many times is ineffective.

Why not do you and your family a favor and have a health care proxy in place. It’s a simple and effective way to have your wishes carried out.

I do have a suggestion for appointing a health care proxy. Most individuals naturally appoint a family member as their health care proxy. It almost makes sense, doesn’t it? However, my suggestion is to not appoint someone in your family. Here’s why. Let’s say you’re on life support and you’ve stipulated that you do not wish to be kept alive on life support.

If you have a family member as the health care proxy, you’re putting this person in a very difficult position. They’re a family member with significant emotional ties to you. It’s bad enough that they have to see you in that condition and to ask them to make the final decision on your fate is extremely difficult. In fact, it’s almost unfair.

So what’s an effective alternative? Appoint a good friend as your health care proxy. Yes, they have emotional ties to you. But not family ties. And that makes it a little easier to make the decisions you want carried out.

What Is a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order and How Does It Work?

EMTs and paramedics are required to resuscitate a person per their protocols.   For example, if someone is in cardiac or respiratory arrest, an EMT will be required to try to resuscitate this person.  The same applies for doctors and nurses at a hospital.  If you are in medical trouble, they will try to save your life.

If you have filled out a Do Not Resuscitate order and someone is able to show proof of this order to the ambulatory service or the hospital, then they will follow the wishes of the executor of the form and not use measures that will further your life if you are in critical condition.

Why would someone want this?  Many people who are in hospice care, end of life care, or who are terminally ill will choose to do this in order to not prolong the inevitable.  It is a choice that is personal to each individual person and you should speak with your family and loved ones about your choice so they understand it when the time comes.


If you need assistance in drafting a detailed health care proxy, or want to discuss creative and effective estate planning, give me a call at (617) 652-5748 or contact me here: [mailto][/mailto].