Healthcare Power of Attorney (HCPA)
What it is:
A healthcare power of attorney (HCPA) is a document that legally authorizes someone to make health-related decisions on someone else's behalf.
How it works/Example:
Individuals sometimes become too unwell or unfit to make decisions regarding their healthcare treatments. To prepare for this possibility, many people appoint another individual to act as their healthcare power of attorney. The HPCA empowers a specific individual (for example, a close friend or relative) to communicate with healthcare personnel regarding another's treatments when that person is incapacitated or unable to communicate.
For example, suppose Bob is advancing in age and has expressed concern about becoming increasingly confused. Bob asks his son Jack to act as his HCPA. Jack signs the HPCA authorizing Jack to communicate with healthcare professionals and make healthcare decisions on Bob's behalf if Bob becomes unable to do so.
Why it matters:
It is important that those who act as HCPAs are extremely familiar with the individual's health situation and wishes as far as treatment. This helps them make the most effective decisions on the individual's behalf and express the individual's treatment wishes as accurately as possible.