Appoint your Medical Treatment Decision Maker, before it’s too late!
When you are healthy you tend not to think about the terrible possibility of losing your mental capacity. Unfortunately, the reality is that anyone can experience an illness or injury that causes you to be unable to make decisions, maybe temporarily or even permanently.
It’s not pleasant to think about potentially losing capacity to make decisions, but documents such as appointing your Medical Treatment Decision Maker hold the same importance as a Will. Your Will works to protect your wishes once you have died, but what if you’re still alive and are incapable of making your own decisions? You want to make sure your affairs are sorted and someone you trust can step in to manage your medical treatment.
The Appointment of Medical Treatment of Decision Maker was introduced by the Victorian Government in March 2018 to allow you to give someone legal authority to make medical treatment decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so. This document replaces the Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical) and the Enduring Power of Guardianship.
Appointing your Decision Maker
The time to appoint Medical Treatment Decision Maker is now. Once you have lost capacity you cannot appoint this person, and nobody can appoint them on your behalf. As we know, illness or injury can happen without any warning and it is prudent to have a plan in place to protect you in that worst-case scenario. This will be a high stress time for your family and friends and, it is best to have a pre-appointed trusted person to step in and assist doctors/medical professionals.
It is important the person that you choose is able and willing to step into this role. It is also vital that the person you choose is someone you trust. Once a medical practitioner has declared that you do not have capacity to make decisions, your appointed Medical Treatment Decision Maker becomes your voice. You must trust this person to act in your best interest and in accordance with your wishes and any advice you have shared with them.
Once you have chosen the best candidate, the document can be prepared and they will sign an acceptance stating they are willing to take on the role if ever required. It is best to let those close to you know that you have prepared this document, where it is kept and who you have appointed. It is not a document that is registered publicly and it is therefore very important you don’t keep this information to yourself! It is also a good idea to advise your medical practitioners that you have appointed a medical treatment decision maker.
If you are going in for surgery, it is very likely the medical staff will ask if you have one of these documents in place.
Can I have more than one person?
You can appoint multiple people, however medical professionals will only take instructions from one person. Therefore, they do not act together, they are more of a “back-up” if your first appointed decision maker cannot provide instructions for some reason. Your appointed decision maker must be over 18.
Role of the Medical Treatment Decision Maker
If it is declared by a medical professional that you are unable to make decisions and they require your consent to treat you, they will be contacting the appointed decision maker to provide that consent.
They also responsible for making the medical treatment decisions that they believe you would wish to make if you had capacity. They are not required to “read your mind” as such but it should be what they reasonably believe you would have chosen if you had capacity.
Your appointed decision maker can also refuse treatment on your behalf. An example would be turning off life support if you suffered a stroke or brain injury and there was no possibility for recovery.
We encourage our clients to communicate with their decision maker as to any preferences or beliefs they have. Then, if the time comes, the appointed person can make an informed decision.
How Long do they Last?
These documents are effective indefinite unless they are revoked (either by the person who made it or the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal) or the person who made it dies.
If you currently have an Appointment of Medical Treatment Decision Maker but want to change the person you have appointed, it is best you contact us to ensure the original document is properly revoked.
When is the best time to make the document?
Now! Don’t wait until it’s too late.