Those Who Can Make Medical Treatment Decisions
In some states, there are no statutes regarding who may make medical treatment decisions for another person. Other states have detailed statutes on this subject. Of course, if you are mentally capable of understanding the options and expressing your wishes, then you always have the sole right to make the decision. However, if a patient is either mentally incapable of making the decision or is unable to communicate a decision, depending on state law, the following categories of people may be authorized to make decisions for the patient:
- an agent pursuant to a health care power of attorney;
- a court-appointed guardian who has been specifically authorized to make health care decisions;
- the patient's spouse;
- the patient's adult child, or a majority of his or her children;
- a parent of the patient;
- an adult brother or sister of the patient, or a majority of siblings;
- an adult relative of the patient; or
- a close friend of the patient.
You may want to review this list and think about who might end up making life-or-death medical decisions for you. If this is a cause for concern, a health care power of attorney—along with a living will—is a good solution.