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I'm incapacitated - who makes my health decisions for me now?

How can I make sure what I want is heard ?? - Your care – Your choices!

In Queensland, if we are unable to make or communicate our own health care decisions, the legal order of priority for substitute decision making is:

(1) an advance health directive (AHD) – a legally binding document used to give consent and direct medical management in specific circumstances – you will have had to part complete this form with your doctor; or

(2) a Tribunal appointed guardian – a guardian appointed by QCAT for an incapacitated adult (in circumstances where they do not have a valid EPA, or attorneys have been removed); or

(3) an attorney appointed for personal/health matters in your Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) or AHD; or

(4) your statutory health attorney – someone with automatic authority if there is no formal appointment in an AHD, by a tribunal or in an EPA. They are the first available, culturally appropriate adult from the following list, in order:

  • your spouse (or de facto) in a close and continuing relationship),
  • your adult carer (who is not an employed carer);
  • or your close friend or relative who is not your employed carer.

The Public Guardian may be your statutory health attorney of last resort.

You can also make a Statement of Choices with Queensland Health to help guide your decision-makers. This is not a legally binding document; however, the content can still have a guiding effect by assisting substitute decision makers and clinicians if you can no longer communicate or make your own decisions.

Your doctor will assist you with completing this 4-page form and it includes details of your attorneys or guardians, and you can specify a time period when you would like to review it (eg every 6 or 12 months). Copies can be available to all health care providers if you send a copy to the Queensland Office of Advance Care Planning.

Ideally – you should:

Review your EPA to ensure it is current – have you nominated as your substitute health decisionmakers the people you want (and specified the way that they are to make decisions, e.g. jointly, successively in order named)?

Consider whether a Statement of Choices would be of assistance in guiding your substitute health decisionmakers and taken steps to complete one with your doctor if you deem it appropriate.

If you are the substitute health decisionmaker for someone who is already incapacitated, you can complete a Statement of Choices document on their behalf, accessible by their health care providers.

Most importantly 

Is your EPA up to date? We would be pleased to assist you in reviewing and correctly creating the documents you need for your advance care planning.

If you or someone you know wants more information or needs help or advice, please contact us on (07) 5443 4866 or email advice@gwlaw.com.au.

If you need help, or have a question get in touch with us today.