You never know when a serious illness or accident will occur; hence, the importance of having a health care proxy.
Equally important is your choice of an agent to make health care decisions on your behalf if you should become incapacitated.
About the Health care Proxy Law
In the State of New York, the Health Care Proxy Law provides individuals (referred to as the principal) the ability to name an agent who can make health care decisions on behalf of that individual. Under the law, health care providers must accept the instructions of the agent as if the patient were giving those instructions.
The appointment of an agent is important because this person will make decisions to consent or refuse to consent to procedures, services or treatments that pertain to the principal’s physical or mental condition. If the patient has not named an agent under a health care proxy, decisions about his or her treatment may fall to medical staff or even the courts.
Determination of incapacity
Naming a health care agent does not take away any authority from the principal to make their own medical decisions. You always have the right, while you are competent, to override the decision of your proxy or revoke the directive. If doctors find that a person lacks the capacity to make his or her own medical decisions, they turn to someone with the legal authority to act as the replacement decision-maker. It is up to the attending physician to determine whether the principal has the ability to make his or her own health care decisions.