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When a doctor tells you that you need medical treatment, you have the power to decide what to do. If you feel like the risk isn’t worth the reward, you can decline care. Or if you would do anything to stay healthy and alive, you may choose to go forward. But who decides if you can’t communicate?

While you don’t expect to be unable to speak for yourself, an accident or illness can put you in a coma or take away your ability to make a decision. However, you can choose a loved one to take over your choices for you. What qualities should you look for when assigning a medical power of attorney?

Choosing the right person for your medical needs

A medical power of attorney creates an agent responsible for your medical care. When you cannot speak, your agent decides on treatment for you. Here are a few things to look for when assigning your medical power of attorney:

  • Trusted – The person you choose will have to power to confirm or deny life-saving treatment. Make sure that your agent will follow your wishes exactly.
  • Calm under pressure – When your health care decisions don’t match with the choices of your family, you need a single person with the power to talk to doctors for you. That person should be able to stand up to angry family members and loved ones to honor your requests.
  • Physically available – You can become incapacitated at any time. Your agent should be able to meet you at the hospital quickly.
  • Understands your wishes – Regardless of what you choose, your agent should understand and accept your decisions. Even if he or she doesn’t agree with you, the doctors should receive your orders.

A good health care agent follows your wishes

By assigning a medical power of attorney to a loved one, you ensure that someone will be around to carry out your decisions. Choosing someone who will honor and respect your choices can help you make sure you receive the medical care you desire.