Information on this page has been sourced through the Office of the Public Advocate, Victoria. Similar requirement will be applicable in all States and localities.
What is a Power of Attorney – Medical
An enduring power of attorney (medical treatment) is a legal document where you (the donor) appoint someone (the agent) to make medical treatment decisions for you – like agreeing to medication or surgery.
Enduring means it continues (endures) when you are unable to make these types of decisions for yourself.
Why do I need one?
It provides you with the assurance that someone will speak on your behalf if you become sick, mentally incompetent, disabled or infer and are unable to make decisions about your own care needs.
If a medical treatment decision maker has not been appointed, the Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act specifies who has legal authority to make medical treatment decisions for a person who is unable to make these decisions. Read more about this.
How do I go about this?
You complete, sign and have witnessed an enduring power of attorney (medical treatment) form – giving power of attorney to someone you choose. (Link to a free form at the bottom of the page, or you can obtain one through your solicitor).
Their power begins when you are unable to make decisions.
Your agent’s decisions have the same legal force as if you had made them yourself.
So what can the person given the Medical Power of Attorney do?
An agent can agree to or refuse medical treatment including your involvement in medical research. They can only refuse medical treatment if:
- the treatment would cause you unreasonable distress, or
- the agent reasonably believes that you would consider the treatment unwarranted.
An enduring power of attorney (medical treatment) cannot be used to make financial, legal or guardianship decisions. For further information about these powers see our fact sheets, enduring power of attorney (financial) and enduring power of guardianship.
The agent cannot refuse medical treatment to alleviate pain or suffering when a person is dying (palliative care
An agent cannot agree (consent) to the following medical procedures:
- those likely to lead to infertility
- termination of a pregnancy
- removal of tissue for transplant.
Before any of these procedures can be carried out, the agent must apply to the Guardianship List of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for a decision.
Advance care directive
The new laws allow for the creation of new legal documents called advance care directives. Advance care directives may include either or both:
- an instructional directive with legally binding instructions about future treatment the person consents to or refuses
- a values directive which documents the person’s values and preferences for future medical treatment.
Links to further information relating to the medical power of attorney