Ask Our Expert: How to Choose Your Health Care Proxy | NYC Health + Hospitals

Ask Our Expert: How to Choose Your Health Care Proxy

There may come a time when a patient is unable to make important medical decisions for themselves. Choosing the right person to be that patient’s advocate is an essential part of quality care. Dr. Reba Williams, Medical Director, NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health, Sydenham, gives insights on how to choose the best person to decide the course of care and treatment for another.

Imagine that you suddenly got too sick to make your own decisions about your medical care. Who would you want to make such decisions on your behalf?

You have the right to choose a health care proxy, or person you trust to make medical decisions for you in case you are unable to speak for yourself. Once you select your proxy, you can make your decision known by filling out a simple form known as a Health Care Proxy.

Dr. Reba Williams, Medical Director, NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health, Sydenham, shares her top tips for choosing your health care proxy.

If you are 18 or older, the time is now.
If you are 18 or older, and become unable, even temporarily, to make health care decisions, you can name someone else to make them for you. Appointing a proxy lets you control your medical treatment. That is why all adults should complete a Health Care Proxy form.

If you are elderly, or have chronic health conditions, it is especially important that you identify someone you trust to speak on your behalf in case you are unable to speak for yourself.

Choose a person you trust to make decisions in line with your wishes.
Your health care proxy can be a family member, your spouse, or a friend. This person will be able to talk to your doctors, look at your medical records, and make decisions about different tests or procedures if you are unable to do so yourself. Be sure to choose someone you think can best honor your wishes and preferences for your care.

Make sure the person you choose is comfortable with the role.
Once you choose someone, take the time to explain that in this role, the person will be responsible for making medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them yourself. Be sure to answer any questions and communicate any goals or wishes you may have for your care.

You can change your health care proxy at any time.
It is okay to change your mind about who you choose to be your proxy for any reason. Just be sure to fill out a new form and inform your doctor and family members about the change.Your doctor can answer any other questions you may have about choosing a health care proxy and help you fill out the form.

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