Medical Power of Attorney | Advanced Directives in Arizona

The majority of people think that they’ll be the ones to make their decisions for their entire life, and that they’ll be able to convey them properly. Unfortunately, there are quite a large number of scenarios that would keep a person from being able to protect their own interests. In these situations it is useful to have a medical power of attorney in place if you live in Arizona or anywhere else, for that matter.

In general, one should prepare for the unexpected to happen, and put in place legal documents that will assign a trusted person with the ability to act for them. To be more specific, principals can create powers of attorney, which can be used to assign agents to make key medical and financial decisions in life, should it be needed.

The 3 Kinds of Advanced Directives

This particular category is one that has documents that people can sign, and it allows others to make decisions when it comes to health care. Basically you have 3 different kinds of documents in this category. They are:

  • Medical Decisions Power of Attorney
  • Orange Card
  • Living Will

The 1st in this list, Medical Decisions Power of Attorney, is sanctioned by the Arizona Legislature and is a document that gives someone else the ability to make your health care decisions. This is a document that will only come into effect if the “Grantor” (the one giving the ability to make decisions to someone else) is no longer able to communicate or make their own responsible decisions when it comes to their healthcare.

The Orange Card is also sanctioned by the Arizona Legislature, and is a limited purpose document. This very quickly explains to any EMT’s (Emergency Medical Teams) should they find the Orange Card that they are not supposed to begin any sort of emergency resuscitation in case of cardiac arrest or if breathing has stopped. This card is not for anyone but EMT’s, and doesn’t instruct any other medical provider. It doesn’t give instructions to ER staff, nurses, or any doctors.

The Living Will is a complete statement of your own personal philosophy when it comes to death and your rights to die, and is a general request that this governs any medical care decisions. For instance you could say something along the lines of, “Even if I have been diagnosed with a terminal disease I demand that the physicians do everything humanly possible to save my life.” On the flip side you could say something along the lines of, “If diagnosed with a terminal disease I desire only comfort care.”

Which Advance Medical Directives are Allowed in Arizona?

  • Medical Decisions Power of Attorney
  • Orange Card
  • Living Will

If Prepared in a State Other than Arizona, is My Advance Medical Care Directive valid?

If valid when prepared in another state, your Medical Decisions and Living Wills Powers of Attorney will continue to be valid in the state of Arizona.

Do I still Need a Medical Power of Attorney if I have a Living Will Already in Place?

Keep in mind that a Living Will is a statement that dictates your overall philosophy about right to die issues. However, a Medical Power of Attorney is how you are able to assign a person to help you carry out that philosophy when you are no longer able to do so. However, there is more to this than just that. Keep these specific things in mind:

  • If you have someone in your life that you don’t want to be able to contribute to the decision (example:a daughter or spouse) then you should be doing a Medical Power of Attorney in order to very specifically exclude them from this process.
  • A situation might arise where you need decisions made for short of life or death. In this case it is beneficial to have an agent in place who is able to consent to surgery, or is able to admit you to the hospital in the event you are disabled and can’t make this sort of decision.
  • Certain individuals, often those with specific kinds of terminal cancers, can benefit from ceasing the artificial administration of fluids and food. However, only 2 kinds of people can do this for you. The first is a court appointed Guardian. The 2nd is your assigned agent under a Medical Decisions Power of Attorney that has been expressly granted that authority.

What Situations Cause the Medical Power of Attorney to Take Place?

If you are still capable of making and communicating responsible decisions when it comes to your own personal health care then your assigned agent under a Medical Power of Attorney is not able to act on your behalf. However, if you lose the ability to do so, then that is when the Medical Decisions Power of Attorney suddenly is “activated.”

What Information Needs to be Placed into an Advance Directive?

In order to communicate what is an acceptable quality of life for you, you should make use of the advance directive for either a living will or medical power of attorney. This can be a difficult thing for most people to do by themselves, however Udall Shumway can help with this. In your advance directive you need to explain exactly which type  of treatment or medical approach you would not want should you be placed in a condition that is going to be under the quality of life that you listed as acceptable. You should meet with both your doctor and your lawyer when it comes to your advance directive.

Does Everyone Need to Carry an Orange Card?

This is a common question, but the answer is, “Definitely Not.” By definition, a hospice patient is one who has a terminal disease and is likely to die within the next 6 months. This is an example of someone who has chosen to have only comfort care. They could sign an Orange Card. If one is not in hospice care, but still has a fatal disease that is likely to have horrible suffering in the end stages, then that person might think about an Orange Card. Lastly, someone who is too frail and is likely to be made disabled by the actions of resuscitation attempts might also think about an Orange Card.

What are DNR Orders?

Your DNR order stands for “Do Not Resuscitate,” and is a direction given to nursing staff by a physician, typically in a nursing home or hospital environment.

Are Nursing Homes Allowed to Require Residents to Sign Orange Cards?

Definitely not. This is a violation of Federal Law and Arizona Law to require an Orange Card.

Can an Orange Card be Signed by the Medical Decisions Power of Attorney for the Grantor of the Medical Power of Attorney?

The answer to this is yes. The law that grants Medical Decisions Powers of Attorney in Arizona also allows for that agent to sign a DNR for his principal.

What are the Exact Powers that Can Go Into a Medical Decisions Power of Attorney?

Listed below, they are the powers to:

  • Place the patient in a hospital or nursing facility
  • Consult with the patient’s health care providers
  • Consent to surgery
  • Direct obedience to a Living Will (which can be combined in the Power of Attorney)
  • Review medical records
  • Appoint a guardian

Do you need help with your medical power of attorney in Arizona? We can help. Contact Udall Shumway today to see how we can help with this and additional advanced directives.

Udall Shumway PLC
1138 N Alma School Rd Suite 101
Mesa, AZ 85201
(480) 461-5300