Key Points about Health Care Surrogates:
- Appointment: The individual, also known as the principal, chooses a health care surrogate and specifies their role and authority through a written designation. This designation must comply with the legal requirements of the relevant jurisdiction.
- Decision-Making Authority: The health care surrogate is authorized to make medical decisions on the individual’s behalf based on the preferences and instructions expressed in the living will or through other conversations with the principal. The surrogate’s decisions should align with the principal’s known wishes, values, and beliefs.
- Scope of Authority: The scope of the health care surrogate’s authority can vary based on the principal’s preferences. It may cover a wide range of medical decisions or be limited to specific situations, depending on what the principal outlines in the designation.
- Communication: Healthcare surrogates must effectively communicate with healthcare providers and family members to ensure everyone is aware of the principal’s medical preferences. They act as advocates for the principal, making sure that medical professionals understand and follow the individual’s wishes.
- Decision-Making Process: In making decisions, healthcare surrogates should consider what the principal would have wanted based on the information available. They may also consult with the principal’s living will, advanced directives, or other healthcare preferences to guide their choices.
- Relevance: A designation of health care surrogate becomes important in situations where the principal is unable to make their own medical decisions due to illness, injury, or cognitive impairment.