Review Michigan Law on Medical Powers of Attorney, Living Wills
By Kenneth J. Bloom
Michigan law specifically allows for the creation of a durable power for health care also known as a Patient Advocate Form. According to the statute, an individual ("Patient") is allowed to appoint a "Patient Advocate" to make medical treatment decisions in the event the Patient is unable to participate in medical decisions. In order to be valid, the Patient Advocate Form has several requirements that must be strictly followed.
Only individuals 18 years of age or older, who are of sound mind, can appoint a Patient Advocate, and only individuals 18 years or older are eligible to be appointed a Patient Advocate. The Patient Advocate Form must be in writing, signed, witnessed, dated, and executed voluntarily. In general, the Patient Advocate Form must be witnessed by two individuals who are not the Patient's spouse, parent, child, grandchild, sibling, heir, physician, or Patient Advocate or an employee of a life or health insurance provider for the Patient, or of a health facility that is treating the Patient.
The Patient Advocate must accept the designation in writing and specifically acknowledge several statutory requirements.
A successor Patient Advocate may be designated who is granted the same rights regarding care, custody and medical treatment decisions, if the first named Patient Advocate does not accept, is incapacitated, resigns or is removed.
A Patient Advocate is granted the right to exercise powers concerning care, custody and medical or mental health treatment decisions. The Patient Advocate Form must include a statement that the authority granted to the Patient Advocate is exercisable only when the Patient is unable to participate in medical or mental health treatment decisions. The determination when the Patient is unable to participate in medical or mental health decisions is made in writing by the Patient's attending physician and another physician or licensed psychologist. The determination must be reviewed at least annually.
A Patient Advocate Form may include a statement of the Patient's wishes regarding care, custody, medical treatment or mental health treatment. Typical powers that may be included are the powers to hire and fire physicians, consent to the Patient's admission to hospitals, execute consents and releases concerning medical care and access to medical records. The Patient may further authorize the Patient Advocate to exercise the powers regarding the Patient's care, custody and medical treatment that the Patient could have exercised on their own behalf. The Patient Advocate cannot exercise any powers that the Patient could not have exercised on their own behalf.
The law specifically allows the Patient to give authority to the Patient Advocate to withhold or withdraw treatment that would allow the Patient to die provided the Patient has expressed in a clear and convincing manner that the Patient Advocate is authorized to make such a decision, and that the Patient Advocate acknowledges that such a decision could or would allow the Patient's death. It is not required that the Patient grant a power to the Patient Advocate to withhold or withdraw treatment that would allow the Patient to die.
The Patient Advocate is required to take reasonable steps to follow the desires, instructions, or guidelines given by the Patient.
The Patient may revoke a Patient Advocate designation at any time.