Texas Medical Power of Attorney Information 

The Benefits of a Tailored Medical Power of Attorney
by Ralph Palumbo, MD, Maureen Palumbo, and Jason Coomer, Esq.

A problem with the way the standard Medical Power of Attorney is written is that it leaves the determination of "not in right mind" up to the physician and limits this determination to extreme situations when the patient is in extreme deterioration as in a patient who is in a coma, or too ill to talk.  The standard Medical Power of Attorney does not provide for times when it would be best for a medical advocate (trusted spouse, friend, or family member) to make certain medical decisions. 

In dealing with a hospitalization, a number of things occur at the same time that may impact a person's ability to make informed decisions.  You are in the hospital because either you are not feeling well thus in pain and distress or you have elected a procedure that will cause you pain and distress.  The admission therefore is coupled with feelings of anxiety and a sense of loss of control.   This sense of powerlessness can induce the Patty Hearst syndrome (Stockholm syndrome) where you begin to identify with the (perceived) oppressor and become agreeable to almost anything presented to you.  You are generally not in a position to make informed decisions or insist on reasonable explanations of what is going on. You can drift in and out of consciousness as well as need to be focused on healing, not dealing with decisions.

Expanding the Medical Power of Attorney to cover any time you are in the hospital or certain decisions can be greatly beneficial.  This can give your medical advocate (trusted spouse, friend or family member) the authority to speak for you while you focus on healing.

If you have been hospitalized, there were probably some statements and decisions that you do not remember making and may not have made if you were thinking clearly.  When you are flat on your back, in pain or going to subject yourself to procedures that are uncomfortable or painful - you are and feel vulnerable.  That is why having a medical advocate who will support you as a patient and speak up for your needs and rights is extremely important.

Some Experts in the medical field have seen both sides of this picture and it is a common saying that "every surgeon needs to be a patient and go through surgery" to understand the patient's perspective.  After a recent hospital stay a prominent doctor stated that "I can honestly say that there is the position of medical personnel being in 'authority' and they think that they always know what is best for you".  Hopefully, they do, but sometime they don't or are just not paying attention.

And there is "informed consent".   Informed consent - how is that handled in most cases?  Along sheet of paper in small print that covers every CWA statement imaginable and signed right before the patient has a procedure.

Empowering a patient means educating a patient, listening to the patient and making sure that the patient and his advocate understand and fully consent to what ever is suggested. 

Now let's go back to the anxious patient on the edge of a Patty Hearst syndrome.  Anxiety is the flip side of depression.  Anxiety frequently masks depression.  An anxious patient can easily slip into a depressed (situational) and compliant (not a good sign) patient.  This kind of patient (the compliance is misunderstood)  makes it very easy for the staff to proceed with tasks in an efficient manner and therefore is encouraged.  And the patient is now in a pleasing behavioral mode and wanting everything to go well so he is acquiescing and accommodating.

Everyone recognizes the agitated and angry patient as an anxious patient.  The anxious/depressed (albeit with situational depression) is overlooked.

Texas Medical Power of Attorney allows the individual to assign someone to make decisions about his or her medical care in the event that he or she becomes incapable of making informed decisions. It also allows an individual to give written instructions regarding the kind of treatments that should or should not be given. Even with a Medical Power of Attorney in place, an individual will continue to make his own medical decisions as long as he is capable of doing so and can communicate those decisions. The agent's authority starts only when the attending physician certifies in writing that the individual no longer has the capacity to make those decisions.

Medical Directives & Powers of Attorney

Protect yourself and your wishes with a medical power of attorney. Austin Estate Planning Lawyer Jason Coomer provides personalized legal services for his clients and prides himself on working with clients to plan for their futures and protect loved ones from difficult decisions.

Austin Estate Planning Lawyer, Jason Coomer drafts Wills, assists in Estate Planning, and handles Probate Matters.  For questions on these documents, guardianships, or alternatives to guardianship, please e-mail Austin lawyer Jason S. Coomer at jason@texaslawyers.com

The Law Offices of Jason S. Coomer, PLLC
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Austin, Texas 78704

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