Duties of your medical treatment decision maker
by Jacqui Brauman
Doctors need their patient’s medical consent before providing treatment. But in the case of an injury or illness, some patients may not be able to communicate their decision. So, if you have appointed someone to make decisions for you, what are the duties of your medical treatment decision maker?
First, your medical treatment decision maker must consider your preferences and values
This is a new requirement under the law that started in 2018 – previously your medical power of attorney just have to act in ‘your best interests’, whether that was your preference or not.
Now, who you appoint has a duty to first review any Advanced Healthcare Directive that you may have preferred, where you wrote down your values and preferences.
Next, your medical treatment decision maker must consider any of the values and preferences that you have spoken about to them, given your circumstances.
If you haven’t given any express written instructions for the circumstances, or you’ve next spoken about what your preferences are, then your medical treatment decision maker must consider what they think you would want, given what they know about you.
Secondly, your medial treatment decision maker must consider the medical treatment options
When considering whether to consent to treatment or not on your behalf, your medical treatment decision maker has the duty to consider the likely effects and consequences of the treatment, including its effectiveness.
They also must consider whether the effects and consequences are consistent with your preferences and values. Or, whether there’s an alternative that would be more consistent with your preferences and values.
There is a duty that the person you appoint to make your medical treatment decisions would consult with relevant family members and friends that they would know you would want to be consulted.
Act in Good Faith and with Due Diligence
When someone is acting on your behalf, there is always the legal responsibility of a fiduciary, to act in good faith and give the decision the due diligence that it should be given when someone is making an important decision for someone else.
Finally, to promote personal and social wellbeing
If the person you have appointed to make your medical decisions just cannot determine what your values and preferences would be in the circumstances, they need to make the decision that would best promote your personal and social wellbeing.