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Can a Health Care Proxy Override the Patient?

Health care proxies are legal documents that allow you to select someone you trust as your agent when making medical decisions on your behalf. Your health care proxy document can include specific instructions that expand or restrict their powers, for instance indicating whether they can remove/maintain feeding tubes; organ/tissue donation preferences can also be included here; these wishes will be honored as long as doctors determine it to be medically feasible or in your best interest.

Some may worry that by creating a health care proxy document they are giving up control of their own healthcare options, but this is not true; your health care agent will only make decisions for you if they deem you incapable. Therefore, you should name someone whom you can trust to understand both your values and desires if desired in your health care proxy document. The law also mandates that an alternate agent is granted similar authority if desired in your document.

New York law permits any competent adult aged 18 or over to fill out a health care proxy document, making this an essential document to have on file, especially for young adults who face greater risks from accidents or serious illnesses that incapacitate them. For this reason, completing both documents together ensures your wishes are documented for future reference.

Once your health care proxy is complete, be sure to give copies to both your agent and doctor before placing it in a secure place with a date mark for when it was signed. Your wishes or feelings may change over time and revoke it at any time by notifying both agents/physicians accordingly; additionally you can change agents at any time or create a new document provided you remain competent enough.

Health care proxies cannot overrule their patient, even if they disagree with his/her wishes or fear standing up to family members of said patient. They must abide by any written wishes written on a document signed by them; however, agents may discuss why certain wishes aren’t being followed with the patient in question.

Health care proxies provide peace of mind by enabling you to plan ahead for any medical emergency where you cannot make decisions on your own. In addition to designating an agent, a health care proxy may also include details regarding end-of-life medical choices known as advance directives; and can include living wills indicating any decisions not to receive life-sustaining treatments under certain conditions.