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Patient advocates and advance directives in Michigan

One important decision you need to make today if you're at least 18 years old is who you want to appoint to make medical decisions for you if you're unable to make them for yourself. You can make your wishes known by doing two things. The first is writing out an advance directive. The second is naming a patient advocate, which is another term for a person who has a health care power of attorney for you.

The advance directive is a written set of instructions for medical professionals to follow. It includes things like whether you want life support or how you want comfort care handled. You can make this document as simple or detailed as you want, but you must make sure that you include anything that's important to you.

Your patient advocate can make decisions about your care while you're alive. This person should be able to decide things how you would without putting their own emotions in the process. They must be an adult and will only be able to step in to make decisions if two doctors find that you're incapacitated.

If you want your patient advocate to make decisions about life support or cardiopulmonary resuscitation for you, Michigan requires that you specifically grant them that right.

One important note here is that you need to designate a person to be your funeral representative if your patient advocate isn't your next-of-kin and you want the patient advocate to make decisions about things like organ donation.

Your patient representative, and a backup representative if you name one, must sign the document accepting their responsibility. Without having everything in order, the person you chose might not be able to make decisions for you when the time comes.

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