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A health care agent is a person who steps in to make health care choices for someone else. They usually only make these decisions if the patient is unable to do so.
As a health care agent, you might be called:
Courts may appoint:
All these names mean the same thing when it comes to health care.
If your child has recently turned 18, they may need or want to appoint you as a health care agent. This will mean if they cannot make decisions you can step in and do so for them.
Laws about health care agents can vary depending on where you live. For example, different states may have different laws.
It is important to understand the health care laws in your state. If you have questions, talk to the care team.
Your child should put your information in a legal form that appoints the health care agent if they want you to act in this role.
If this option is not checked on the form, you can only act as a health care agent if medical staff members decide your child is not able to make their own decisions.
As a health care agent, you have the right to:
You should carry out these rights in a caring, responsible way.
Take time to talk with your child about their:
If you must make these choices, you can know you are doing so with their desires in mind.
You may play only a small role as health care agent. Your child might be able to understand some things but need help with others.
Your role may grow. You are encouraged to work with the care team to decide what your child needs and how to provide it.
These ideas may help you:
Sometimes there is no clear choice. That is when you must decide. Here are guidelines that can help you:
You can ask for help or advice from your care team if you need it. They can help explain risks, benefits, and options.
Reviewed: March 2022