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A medical proxy, also known as a healthcare proxy, allows someone to appoint a trusted person to make healthcare decisions on their behalf if they're unable to do so. This protects medical decisions that align with the patient's values and desires.


Medical Proxies v HIPAA Authorization

Medical proxies and HIPAA authorizations are important in a patient's decision-making. A HIPAA authorization allows health providers to share information with specified individuals. A medical proxy focuses on decision-making authority in health matters.

See also: HIPAA Compliant Email: The Definitive Guide

See also: How does HIPAA differentiate between consent and authorization?


How to choose your Proxy?

  1. Choose a person who you believe will respect your healthcare wishes.
  2. Your proxy should be able to communicate clearly with healthcare professionals.
  3. Confirm that the person is willing to take on this responsibility and will likely be available when needed.
  4. Choose someone who can make difficult decisions under pressure.
  5. Your proxy should understand your values and preferences regarding medical care.
  6. Ideally, select someone who lives near you or can travel quickly in an emergency.
  7. Check for conflict of interest: Avoid choosing a healthcare provider or someone who might have a conflict of interest.
  8. Have an open and honest conversation about your expectations and their role.
  9. Make sure they agree to be your medical proxy before you finalize your decision.
  10. Over time, reassess whether your chosen proxy still fits your needs best.

Can the proxy refuse?

A medical proxy, once designated, does not have the authority to appoint a different individual to take over their role. The power to change or appoint a medical proxy rests solely with the principal. This person was initially designated as the proxy. This is because the decision to choose a medical proxy is deeply personal and is predicated on a high level of trust and understanding between the principal and their chosen agent. 

If the proxy cannot continue and no alternate is named, legal intervention may be necessary to appoint a new healthcare decision-maker.

See also: HIPAA, disability, and caregiver rights

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