Why You Need Medical Power of Attorney

  • The Medical Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you appoint an individual to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
  • The Medical Power of Attorney sets forth your wishes concerning your care if you should become ill and authorizes your agent to consent or refuse treatment on your behalf, to provide for your companionship while in a hospital or facility, to employ and discharge health care personnel, and to authorize the release of your medical information to your medical agent.
  • If you wish to appoint someone other than a family member to serve as your medical agent, you must have a Medical Power of Attorney to indicate who you want to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Without a Medical Power of Attorney, a medical provider will look to the next of kin, as provided under Virginia law, for decisions regarding your health.
  • If you have a domestic partner and want your partner to have access to you in a hospital and to make medical decisions on your behalf, you must appoint your partner as your medical agent since a domestic partner is not legally recognized as next of kin and would not have any legal authority to act on your behalf.

Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), your physician and medical providers cannot communicate with your medical agent unless you have a HIPAA waiver on file or you have made a Medical Power of Attorney, which will contain such a waiver.