August 2017 – Establishing Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare (DPOA-HC) is a gentle way to start advance care planning.
In the state of Washington, if no DPOA-HC has been established, the responsibility for medical decision making for an incapacitated adult falls to relatives in the following order:
– spouse/domestic partner
– adult children (shared collectively)
– parents (shared)
– adult siblings (shared)
Discussing with patients who will make healthcare decisions for them if they are incapacitated can optimize the chances their wishes are carried out and prevent family discord. It also improves prognostic awareness by inviting periodic reviews of priorities around health care as patients age or disease progresses.