National interest in the Terri Schiavo case has increased the demand for health care proxies in New York State. Local residents can obtain a health care proxy form at Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz’ office located at 3107 Kingsbridge Avenue.
In New York State family members aren’t allowed to stop treatment when there isn’t a living will or a health care proxy. A health care proxy allows you to appoint a competent adult to make decisions about your medical treatment in the event that you can’t decide for yourself including decisions to remove or provide life-sustaining treatment. Hospitals, doctors and other health care providers must follow your agent’s decisions as if they were your own.
"Who can make important decisions for you if a serious illness or accident leaves you unable to communicate? Many people don’t realize the state Health Care Proxy Law lets you designate a health care agent to make such decisions. Appointing a health care agent is a serious decision. Make sure you talk about it with your family, close friends and your doctor," said Assembly Jeffrey Dinowitz.
Assemblyman Dinowitz warns that it is important for people to understand the distinction between health care proxies and living wills. The health care proxy is significantly different from the living will in that it empowers another person to make health care decisions if the patient cannot do so herself. The living will, on the other hand, has no such provisions but enables a person to express her own choices regarding medical treatment. "I urge for people to utilize both a living will and a health care proxy," said Assemblyman Dinowitz.