HEALTH CARE DECISIONS
GUARDIAN – PERMITTED MEDICAL DECISIONS
The guardian makes medical decisions for the individual who is under a guardianship, called the ward. The
guardian has the sole authority to consent to routine or necessary medical or other professional care or
treatment. The right to consent to medical treatment also includes the right to withhold consent to medical
treatment. Therefore a guardian may also make decisions including decisions not to undertake certain medical
procedures. This would include requesting that a DNR be placed in the ward’s medical file, if the guardian
consents in writing.
GUARDIAN – UNAUTHORIZED MEDICAL DECISIONS
A guardian cannot sign an advance directive for health care (living will) for a ward. Nor can a guardian consent
to or direct the withholding of or withdrawal of life-sustaining medical procedures that would be contained in an
advance directive. However, if a ward is terminally ill or in a persistent vegetative state and does not have an
advance directive, a guardian may petition the court and request that the court permit the withholding or the
withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment. This is a court ordered advance directive. A guardian cannot commit a ward to a mental health facility. Only an advance directive for mental health treatment or a court can authorize a mental health commitment.
POWER OF ATTORNEY
The attorney-in-fact may consent to medical procedures. However, as with a guardian, an attorney-in-fact cannot sign an advance directive for health care (living will) for another individual, nor direct the withholding or withdrawal of life sustaining treatment decisions for a terminally ill individual or an individual in a persistent vegetative state. When the individual has not signed an advance directive, the court must be petitioned for a court ordered advance directive. An attorney-in-fact cannot consent to the removal of a bodily organ or psychosurgery or any experimental medical procedure, except in an emergency necessary to save life.
ADVANCE DIRECTIVE PROXY.
A proxy, or someone to act in your place, can only be appointed with an Advance Directive for Health Care (Living Will). A proxy is the sole authority in the case of an individual who has signed an advance directive, who is terminally ill and who will die within 6 months or who is persistently unconscious or who is suffering from an end stage condition and can sign a DNR. The proxyç—´ decision controls over the wishes of all others, including other family members. However, the proxy has no authority to make medical decisions for an individual who is not terminally ill and expected to die in 6 months or who is not persistently unconscious or who is not suffering from an end stage condition.
Although doctors will seek the recommendations of the family, if there is a disagreement about the course of treatment, only a legally appointed guardian or attorney-in-fact acting under a power of attorney or health care proxy can make the decision or get medical records. You should give the proper person the necessary authority to make the decisions that you would want made if you were unable to do so. Medical records cannot be released to family members without written authorization from the individual.