Giving someone power to make healthcare decisions for you when you aren't able to make them yourself is placing a great deal of trust in that person. It's important that whomever you choose for the task is aware of your wishes and will honestly act in your best interests -- to make the decisions you likely would have made for yourself.
The person you name to fulfill this critical role via a representation agreement can make decisions on your behalf regarding your overall health care, including the likes of your nutritional needs, the clothes you wear, where you live, your hygiene and your overall safety. These are many of the items that should be discussed between you and the individual you choose for this role, and having everything written in a document, or healthcare directive, is an important part of the process.
More say than a doctor?
The individual trusted with this responsibility is in a powerful position when it comes to making healthcare decisions for you. Giving someone the right to make personal decisions regarding your healthcare if you can't do so yourself allows that person full responsibility on many critical and life-altering decisions; however, those decisions cannot be against the law.
In fact, the individual legally appointed into this role has the right to refuse medical treatment for you or to ask for specific treatment. In such cases, this individual could even go against a physician's recommendations regardless of whether the physician wants to discontinue treatment or to administer treatment.
There are certain exceptions. For instance, a physician in British Columbia is lawfully able to veto a representative's healthcare decision made on your behalf if doing so will keep you alive or if your appointed power of attorney didn't meet his or her duties.
Are there specific legalities in British Columbia?
Each province in Canada has its own laws that govern a representative. In British Columbia, the Representation Agreement Act and the Health Care (Consent) and Care Facility (Admission) Act govern many of these matters.
The specifics of these laws are a bit complex, and thus it may be helpful to obtain professional guidance and support when it comes to creating a personal healthcare directive and designating someone to handle this role should you become incapacitated. An experienced lawyer can help make sure that you properly draft your representation agreement, ensuring the granting of your wishes for legally establishing the individual of your choice to take care of your personal and health care decisions.