A Checklist For Being a Good Proxy

Make sure you understand your legal responsibilities as a proxy.

As a health care proxy, you have the legal power to make medical decisions for the person if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves. As a proxy, you will talk with your person's doctors, consult their medical records, and make decisions about tests, procedures, and other treatment. The proxy is entitled to full access to medical information under federal privacy laws (commonly known as HIPAA).

Make sure you understand your person's wishes and choices.

It is important that you really understand your person's wishes and choices regarding end-of-life care. It's a good idea to go through the Conversation Starter Kit with your person, talking over their answers to the questions in the Kit and their preferences on the “Where I Stand” scales. And it is a good idea to talk over the person's advance directive.

Having these conversations before a medical crisis, when there is time to talk things through, will give you a strong foundation for making decisions when the time comes.

Be comfortable speaking up.

Related: The Conversation Starter Kit

Even if your person's doctor or nurse is in a hurry, it's okay to ask questions. You could say:

  • "I'd like to speak with you about my mother's wishes."
  • "I don't understand what you just said."
  • "I have some questions I'd like to ask you. When would be a good time for you?"

You might want to write down your questions beforehand, just to make sure you don't forget anything.

In all these cases, the way around a difficult situation for any decision, is always the same: What would your person (your mother, your husband, your best friend) want?

Proxy Card

↓Download Card

Cut out card, fold, and laminate for safe keeping.

Proxy Card