A medical power of attorney document gives you the right to designate a person or organization to act on your behalf for medical services, in the event that you are found incompetent and can no longer participate in your health care decisions. This is when you can not act on your behalf. The agent will have the ability to make all health care related decisions for you. This can occur when you are unconscious, mentally incompetent or for any other reason that you can not make these decisions for yourself. For example, you are conscious but found to have Alzheimer disease or other mental health issues that render you unable to make reasonable choices. Within this document there may also be wording that expresses your wishes to receive life-sustaining procedures or wording that is similar to living will wording. This clause is a good idea in the event that you are in a coma or terminally ill. This ensures that the agent follows your wishes and can make the appropriate decisions for you. However, even when these are added to the document, your wishes should still be discussed with the agent thoroughly, to make sure they understand what their responsibilities will be.
A medical power of attorney agent is different then just a living will. A living will only expresses whether you want to receive life-sustaining procedures and care. While a health attorney can actually make decisions and choices concerning your health care and well-being. Both of these documents are considered advanced health care directives. Advanced health care directives means that you have given your wishes and power to someone else to make health related decisions for you in the event that you are no longer able to make them yourself. These are considered future decisions, however they can occur sooner. Each states rules with these documents is different and some states require a separate document in-conjunction with the medical power of attorney document to be signed. This is an advanced health care directive document and it will combine the medical power of attorney rules and the living will rules together.
Furthermore, even when there is a medical power of attorney agent appointed, you can still give directions and wishes to any doctors or physicians as long as you can. The only time this document goes into effect is when you are no longer able to expresses your wishes any longer or participate in your health care choices. Choosing who or what organization will be your acting agent is very important for this reason. The choice should be made carefully to ensure that they will be acting in your best interests, as well as the best interests of your health.