Patient Advocate Designation
In Michigan, a person (the patient) may appoint another person (the patient advocate) to make some or all of the care, custody and medical treatment decisions on the patient’s behalf in the case of that patient’s disability and inability to make and/or communicate such decisions on behalf of him or herself.
Due to the federal Patient Self Determination Act, which requires all health care facilities receiving Medicare or Medicaid money to inform patients of their rights regarding health care decision making, many nursing homes now require that a newly admitted patient either have an effective Medical Power of Attorney or a court-appointed guardian so that medical decisions can continue to be made on behalf of the patient even if the patient loses the capacity to do so. This is in spite of the fact that the laws in Michigan do not allow a guardian to make medical treatment decisions which are allowed under the patient advocate designation.
While many refer to this document as a “Living Will”, it is not under Michigan law the same thing. A “Living Will” does not designate an advocate, or individual to speak for you on your medical care choices when you are unable to do so, it merely sets forth your philosophies and describes the types of medical treatment that you wish to receive or refuse in the event of incapacity. Michigan court decisions require more.
It is recommended that the Medical Power of Attorney, or Designation of Patient Advocate that complies with the State of Michigan laws be drafted and signed to provide the maximum assurance of protection in the event of your incapacity to make or communicate your medical preferences.
What should you consider when selecting a Patient Advocate?
You should select that individual that you trust to supervise your medical care and to follow your wishes even if those are not the choices that he or she would make. For this reason, it may be necessary to look beyond you parents or children for such an advocate. You may find that a close friend or a sibling is the better selection.
Whoever you choose, you must take the time to sit down and discuss this matter with him or her. Tell them what your philosophy is for medical care today and at the end of your lifetime. Give them enough information so that they feel comfortable with what your decisions would be.