“Ask the Expert” Corner – Thomas J. Foels, M.D., MMM, Executive Vice President & Chief Medical Officer, Independent Health
Q. What is a Health Care Proxy?
A Health Care Proxy is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone as your health care agent, who would, in turn, be responsible for making health care decisions on your behalf if you lose the ability to make decisions yourself (e.g., if you’re severely injured or ill).
You can also use the Health Care Proxy to cite what types of treatments you would or would not want (e.g., “If I am in a coma with no hope of recovery, I do not want to receive artificial nutrition provided by feeding tubes”). A proxy can prevent confusion and help your family and friends make the right health care decisions for you during an already stressful time.
When choosing your health care agent, be sure to select someone you trust, such as a family member or close friend. Talk with them to make sure they are willing to take on this responsibility. If they agree, share with them your thoughts, beliefs, and preferences about how you would want to be treated for the remainder of your life.
Health Care Proxy forms are available at most doctor offices and at hospitals. You can also download a copy of the form by visiting
. Once your form is signed, keep the original and give copies to your doctor(s) and your health care agent.