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Jennifer Heisler, RN

Having Surgery? Do You Have a Healthcare Power of Attorney?

By January 21, 2013

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If you are having surgery you should seriously consider having a healthcare power of attorney, if you don't already.

This paperwork can be done with a lawyer (many people do it as part of creating a will and estate planning) or simple versions can be found online.  This allows you to choose who you want making your healthcare decisions if you are unable to do so yourself.

If you are married, your spouse is the first in line to make decisions, but you may want someone other than your spouse to be the decision maker.  Maybe you have a sister who is a nurse or a doctor, or maybe you have a son who best understands your wishes and is most likely to follow through with those wishes.

For the GLBT community, unless you are married AND having surgery in a state that legally upholds same-sex unions, the healthcare power of attorney is especially important, as your significant other will not be the person legally appointed to make your decisions, your next of kin will be.

But wait... that isn't all!

It isn't enough to have a healthcare power of attorney if you don't tell them what you want.  Have a discussion with the person you select, and discuss important topics about your wishes.  Do you want to be sustained on a ventilator if you can't breathe on your own? Do you want to be an organ donor? A tissue donor? An eye donor?  Do you want CPR if your heart stops? What do you want your code status to be? Make sure you tell your POA (Power of Attorney) exactly what you want so they will know what to do if things don't work out as well as you would like.

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