Charles N. Doberneck

Subtitle

Health Care Representative

An Appointment of a Health Care Representative usually coordinates with a living will.  However, unlike a Living Will, which applies only in the event of a terminal illness where a doctor certifies in writing that death will occur within a short period of time and that the use of life-prolonging procedures would serve only to artificially prolong the dying process, an   Appointment  of a  Health Care Representative is not limited to a terminal illness.  An Appointment of a Health Care Representative addresses the broader and more common issues of health care decisions in non-terminal situations where a person may be unable, for any reason, to communicate directions or consents to doctors. An Appointment of a Health Care Representative is primarily designed to authorize a trust family member, or other trusted person, to communicate with health care providers and to give or withhold consent to health care on behalf of the person who appoints the Health Care Representative.  The person or persons appointed in an Appointment of Health Care Representative may be the same as, or different from, the person or persons appointed in a Power of Attorney.  An Appointment of a Health Care Representative can thus cover routine medical care when a person is unable to communicate his or her wishes.  Just as importantly, it can also cover specific authorizations and directions to the Health  Care  Representative and doctors concerning various procedures, including the provision of artificial nutrition and hydration, antibiotics, and resuscitation in the event of a coma or persistent vegetative condition which is reasonably determined to be irreversible.   Because such conditions can occur without necessarily being a terminal illness in which death would result within a short period of time, an Appointment of a Health Care Representative would be useful (or even essential) in circumstances where a Living Will would not apply.  Although they may have differing uses and conditions, Living Wills and Appointments of Health Care Representatives are both important documents which help family members and doctors make difficult decisions by pointing them to written directions that make clear the desires of the person who executes such documents.