In Massachusetts, a Health Care Proxy is a written instruction by a person who appoints another individual to act as their Health Care Agent. The Agent is appointed to make medical or health decisions when a person is incapacitated or unable to communicate such decisions.
This document provides you with the ability to control the manner in which you will receive medical treatment, in the event that you require life sustaining procedures. The Health Care Proxy becomes effective only after your attending physician states in writing that you no longer have the capacity to make or communicate your own health care decisions. Your Agent’s authority is effective only for so long as you cannot make your own medical decisions. Should you regain your capacity to make decisions, the Health Care Agency is terminated.
It is important that you give careful consideration to the individuals you select to serve with the authority to terminate life support systems. The person you select should be a person you trust, who will not make medical decisions based on his or her wishes or values, but rather one who will carry out your wishes.