What is a Medical Treatment Decision Maker?
The title pretty much says it all. But, just to make things crystal clear for you, your Medical Treatment Decision Maker is a person who you chose to make decisions relating to your health care if you are unable to do so.
Your chosen person should be someone (or some people) you trust and know well. The decisions this person might have to make can be the difference between life or death. So, you want to be sure that they are clear:
- that you've chosen them for this role and told your friends and family who they are
- that they're comfortable with the decisions you'd like them to make in certain situations
- about your views and wishes on any medical treatment you may need like surgery, medications and life support systems.
Know that this person can only be your voice on medical decisions. If someone needs answers on property or finance related issues, you need to appoint someone else for that.
Our expert lawyers can prepare your Appointment of Medical Treatment Decision Maker document for you, providing you with the best advice to ensure your decision is legally sound and expresses your wishes for your care.
Your 4 step checklist for appointing a Medical Treatment Decision Maker
Once you've chosen your person (or people), make things official in four steps:
- Ensure you're eligible
You must be at least 18 years old and have full decision-making ability to appoint a person into this role.
- Prepare your documentation
Our lawyers will help you prepare your 'Appointment of Medical Treatment Decision Maker' form, ensuring it is legally sound and expresses your wishes.
- Complete the form
You can appoint up to two decision makers.
- Get the form witnessed
Two people need to witness your form. One of the two witnesses needs to be a qualified person, such as your lawyer, Justice of the Peace or registered medical practitioner. We will help you with this.
We will store your document for you in a safe and secure place, ensuring you and your family have access if and when it's needed. Also keep your copy of the document somewhere safe and tell a few trusted people where it is.
You can also give copies to your Medical Treatment Decision Maker and your doctor if you like.
3 important details to remember
It may be simple to appoint someone into this role but remember that making medical decisions for someone else is very serious. Consider these three details before you make any choices about a Medical Treatment Decision Maker:
- Communicate your wishes effectively
You might want to create an Advance Care Directive at the same time you appoint a Medical Treatment Decision Maker. This document describes exactly how you want to be cared for if you lose the ability to make your own decisions. We can prepare this document for you, together with 4 other vital documents.
- Know when the person you choose needs to step in
As soon as you lose your ability to make decisions your decision maker gains authority over medical decisions. This can happen in more ways than you probably think, including when you:
- are in an accident that causes a brain injury or knocks you unconscious
- are heavily medicated
- suffer a severe stroke
- are diagnosed with dementia.
- What power your Medical Treatment Decision Maker will have
In short, they will be able to make medical decisions for you as though they were you. This can seem overwhelming which is why it's important to choose the right person.
However, know that according to the law, every decision they make has to be thought of as a decision you yourself would make. This means that they have to consider your preferences, values and beliefs before they can make a decision.
You’ve been asked to be a Medical Treatment Decision Maker. What do you do?
Being asked to make medical decisions for someone else is a big responsibility. It means that someone trusts you with their life. In a nutshell, if that person suddenly becomes unconscious or is unable to communicate, you need to:
- step in and make medical decisions on their behalf
- be responsible for their medical decisions until they recover
- always make yourself available to doctors and anyone else on the person's medical team.
If the time comes when you need to make a tricky decision, you need to make the decision that you truly believe the injured or unconscious person would make if they could. That is your number one role. You can even be held liable for not making the best decision if you’re not properly prepared.
To do your job properly, you're going to need to know what preferences, values and wishes the person has in advance. Ask the person if they have an Advance Care Directive or similar document. If they do, ask them for a copy.
But whether they have one or not, make some time to chat while the person is still healthy. In particular you want to find out what their opinions are on life support machines and certain surgical procedures.
Your local expert lawyer from Maurice Blackburn can help. We will make sure you have all the information and protection you need to carry out your new role in line with the person's best wishes as well as the law.
How can a lawyer help make this a smooth process?
You have a lot to gain from working with the right lawyer.
An experienced Maurice Blackburn lawyer will ensure that you:
- Have complete, personalised advice on any ramifications that you might come across from giving someone power over your medical decisions.
- Word your document in a way that ensures your wishes are clear and can be followed when you can't be there.
- Have peace of mind that your wishes will withstand the scrutiny of the court system and any potential litigation.
- You are aware of any changes in legislation that might affect your document being valid.
Come in to your nearest office or get in touch with your local Maurice Blackburn team today. We're ready to work with you on your advance healthcare planning now.
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- Appointment of Medical Treatment Decision Maker
- Advance Care Directive
- Statement of Wishes
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