Health Care Surrogate

Who will speak for you if you cannot?

Health-Care-SurrogateWhen you name a Health Care Surrogate in writing, that person can make medical decisions for you only if you become incapacitated and unable to make your own decisions. As long as they are legal, you may spell out the guidelines for your Health Care Surrogate to follow. This eases the decision-making process in a stressful time for the named person because you set forth your guidelines.

Decisions pertaining to your health include the right to choose or refuse medical treatment. It is important that your rights are not lost or diminished by a physical or mental incapacity.

In Florida, the Health Care Surrogate appointment must be signed in the presence of two witnesses. At least one person who acts as a witness shall be neither the principal’s spouse or blood relative. There is no required legislated form to use, so the wording in Health Care Surrogate documents varies greatly. This allows you the flexibility to write a document that sets forth your specific wishes. The law permits you to give authority to your surrogate to consent to medical treatment, surgical and diagnostic procedures, to provide, withhold or withdraw consent, and to authorize admission to health care facilities.

It is also important that the person you name as your Health Care Surrogate knows your wishes, values and preferences – and has agreed to follow them. Also, talk with your physician and make sure your physician will honor your wishes within the boundaries of Florida law.

A copy of the document should be a part of your medical record and must be presented every time you enter the hospital. It is suggested that you review, initial and date the document each year so that the medical community is assured that it still sets forth your wishes.