An enduring power of attorney (medical treatment) gives the agent (attorney) you appoint authority to make decisions about medical treatment on your behalf if you become incompetent through ageing, mental or physical illness or injury. The authority only becomes effective if you become legally incompetent, that is, unable to make decisions on your own behalf.
An agent can be a family member, friend or professional person. You cannot appoint two people jointly. You can however appoint an alternative agent should your original agent die, become incompetent or cannot be contacted.
Be aware that the agent you appoint will be able to make decisions about refusing medical treatment on your behalf if you become incompetent.
Your agent can only refuse medical treatment on your behalf if they believe it would cause unreasonable distress; or if there were reasonable grounds for believing if you were competent you would have considered the treatment unwarranted.
An enduring power of attorney (medical treatment) does not empower an agent to arrange euthanasia or refuse palliative care. There are safeguards to protect you if the agent acts improperly. For example, before making any decision the agent must discuss your condition with your doctor.
Two independent witnesses must witness the enduring power of attorney document.
One witness must be a person authorised to take statutory declarations, such as a legal practitioner or a doctor.
Both witnesses must be satisfied the agent has received and understood sufficient information to make a decision.
The agent must keep accurate records of all dealings and transactions made pursuant to the enduring power of attorney.
Refusal of Medical Treatment
For a refusal of medical treatment to be effective:
- The agent must sign a refusal of treatment certificate
- Two witnesses must sign the refusal of treatment certificate
- These witnesses must not have witnessed the enduring power of attorney
- One of the witnesses has to be a medical practitioner