Frequently Asked Questions
A Medical Power of Attorney is a general category given to documents people sign to arrange for their healthcare decision making. There are four basic documents:
- Living Will
- Medical Decisions Power of Attorney
- Mental Health Power of Attorney
- Orange Card
A Living Will is a statement of a person’s philosophy regarding the right to die and a general request that the philosophy govern the person’s medical care. For example: “I believe in the sanctity of life, but if I am diagnosed with a terminal illness, I want only comfort care” or “I don’t care if I have a terminal illness. I demand that the physicians do everything in their power to save my life.”
A Medical Decisions Power of Attorney is a document sanctioned by Arizona legislature in which an individual, the “Grantor”, appoints another person to make healthcare decisions. The document only comes into effect when the Grantor is unable to make or communicate responsible decisions concerning his or her healthcare.
A Mental Health Care Power of Attorney is a document to appoint a person to make future mental health care decisions for you if you become incapable of making those decisions for yourself. The decision about whether you are incapable can only be made by an Arizona licensed psychiatrist or psychologist who will evaluate whether you can give informed consent.
An Orange Card is a limited purpose document sanctioned by Arizona legislature and is a way that a person communicates to Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs) that, if an Orange Card is found, they are not to initiate emergency resuscitation in the event of cardiac arrest or the cessation of breathing. An Orange Card is not an instruction to any other type of healthcare provider and will not guide doctors, ER staff or nursing home behavior.
What Advance Medical Directives are permitted in Arizona?
Living Will, Medical Decisions Power of Attorney, Mental Health Care Power of Attorney, Orange Card
Is an Advance Medical Care Directive that was prepared in another state valid in Arizona?
Living Wills and Medical Powers of Attorney prepared and deemed valid in another state are recognized as valid in Arizona.
If I have a Living Will, do I need a Medical Power of Attorney?
A Living Will is a statement of your philosophy about right to die issues. A Medical Power of Attorney is the action of appointing an agent to carry out that philosophy. There is more to the issue so remember:
- If you want to remove someone from the decision making loop, a Medical Power of Attorney can specifically exclude named individuals from the decision making process.
- You may need to have decisions made for you, short of life or death decisions. Therefore, it may be useful to appoint an agent who can consent to surgery or admit you to a hospital or nursing home if you are disabled or unable to make such decisions on your own.
- People suffering from certain terminal diseases often benefit from a discontinuation of the artificial administration of food and fluids. There are only two types of individuals who can carry out this wish: a court-appointed Guardian or the individual you appoint through a Medical Decisions Power of Attorney
When does a Medical Power of Attorney come into effect?
If you are able to make and communicate responsible healthcare decisions, the Medical Power of Attorney has no effect or right to act. When you lose the ability to make such decisions, the Medical Power of Attorney goes into effect.
What should be included in an advance directive?
You should use the advance directive, whether it is a Living Will or Medical Power of Attorney, to communicate what constitutes an acceptable quality of life for you. This is difficult for many to do on their own, but we can assist with this.
Your advance directive should also state the types of medical treatments and approaches that are not welcome if you have a condition that falls below the quality of life that you have defined as acceptable.
Consult with both your physician and your lawyer about your advance directive.
Should everybody have an Orange Card?
- A Hospice patient is, by definition, a patient who has a terminal illness and who is expected to die in six months or less. This individual has elected to have comfort care only, meaning that they could reasonably sign an Orange Card.
A person who is not a Hospice patient but who has a fatal illness and is facing the end stages of the disease that could impose extreme suffering should consider an Orange Card.
A person who is so frail that they would likely suffer grave disability as the result of resuscitation should consider an Orange Card.
What is a DNR order?
DNR stands for “Do Not Resuscitate” and is a direction that a physician gives to nursing staff in a hospital or nursing home setting.
Can a nursing home require that every resident sign an Orange Card?
It is a violation of federal and Arizona state law to require nursing home residents to sign an Orange Card.
Can a Medical Decisions Power of Attorney sign an Orange Card on behalf of the Grantor of the Medical Power of Attorney?
Yes. Arizona state law enables the agent appointed by the Medical Decisions Power of Attorney to sign a DNR for the principal.
What powers can go into a Medical Decisions Power of Attorney?
A Medical Decisions Power of Attorney can have the power or authority to:
- Review medical records
- Consult with the patient’s healthcare providers
- Place the patient in a hospital or nursing facility
- Consent to surgery
- Appoint a guardian
- Direct obedience to a Living Will (which can be combined in the Power of Attorney)
Contact: The Law Office of Arnold N. Hirsch at (480) 832-3000 to schedule your consultation today.