Medical Power of Attorney

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Maryland Medical Power of Attorney

Medical Powers of Attorney (Advanced Directives)

Any competent person may create a power of attorney to give someone the power to make healthcare decisions for him in case something happens. These documents are called advanced directives. The Maryland Health Care Decision Act governs advance directives.

Under the Maryland Health Care Decision Act (Md. Health-General §§ 5-601 et seq.) the person the principal appoints to make healthcare decisions is called a “healthcare agent.” An owner, operator or employee of the healthcare facility providing care to the principal cannot usually serve as the healthcare agent unless the person was selected as the healthcare agent before the facility began care of the principal.

An advance directive can be either a written or electronic document. It must be signed, dated and witnessed by two witnesses. It is the responsibility of the person who wants his advance directive honored to tell his doctor about it. Anyone except the healthcare agent may serve as a witness. The directive goes into effect when the person becomes too sick to make a decision about his care. If the patient is unconscious or not able to communicate then the attending doctor may make the determination that the advance directive is in effect. Otherwise two doctors must certify that the patient is not capable of making an informed decision about care.

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