Ask someone to be your health care agent or proxy. Be sure this person knows your wishes and if you make any changes in your health care choices.
As your life or health changes, you may also change your health care decisions. You can change or cancel an advanced care directive at any time.
Making the decision for a loved one
You may serve as a health care agent or proxy for someone else. In this role you may have to make the decision to start or remove life support machines. It is a very hard decision to make.
If you need to make a decision about stopping treatment for a loved one:
Talk to your loved one's doctor.
Review the goals of your loved one's medical care.
Weigh the benefits and burdens of treatments on your loved one's health.
Think about your loved one's wishes and values.
Seek advice from other health care professionals, such as a social worker.
Seek advice from other family members.
Rakel RE, Strach EM. Care of the dying patient. Rakel RE, Rakel DP, eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 5.
Winkler EC, Hiddemann W, Marckmann G. Ethical assessment of life-prolonging treatment. Lancet Oncol. 2011;12:720-722.
Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.