The Health Care Proxy Law
What is a Health Care Proxy?
The Health Care Proxy is a simple legal document that allows you to name someone you know and trust to make decisions about your medical care when you are unable to communicate. The person that you designate is known as your Health Care Agent. It will be important to discuss your wishes and values regarding medical treatments, including life-sustaining measures, with the person you intend to be your Health Care Agent. Your agent will be expected to follow your directives in making decisions on your behalf. If your agent does not have this information, then your agent is to make decisions based on his or her assessment of your best interest. Your agent cannot act for you until your doctor determines, in writing, that you lack the ability to make health care decisions.
Who is eligible?
Under the Massachusetts Health Care Proxy Law, any competent adult 18 years of age or over may appoint a Healthcare Agent. There are some restrictions on who can serve as a Healthcare Agent and who can be a witness. These are explained in the instructions for completing a Healthcare Proxy. There are no fees or public filing requirements.
Where can I obtain a Health Care Proxy?
Your physician's office will have Health Care Proxies, as will the hospital. Ask for one during the admissions process, or ask a nurse, a Patient Representative or Case manager.
Cape Cod Hospital will provide you with assistance in completing a Health Care Proxy. This may be accomplished by contacting Pastoral Care at ext. 25287 or the Patient Representative office at ext. 25400.
You may wish to discuss medical treatment options with your physician prior to completing a Health Care Proxy.
A copy of your Health Care Proxy will be filed in your Cape Cod Hospital Medical Record. Your physician, your agent and a family member should also have a copy of your Health Care Proxy.
Massachusetts's law does not require that you have a Health Care Proxy. Completing one will assure you and Cape Cod Hospital that you will receive medical treatment in accordance with your wishes. Medical care is not conditioned. nor will any discrimination occur, based on whether you have a Health Care Proxy.
Any questions may be directed to:
Cape Cod Hospital
Patient Representative Office
ext.25400, 25401, or 508-862-5400, 508-862-5401
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Health
80 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116
The Board of Registration of Medicine
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
10 West Street
Boston, MA 02111