Power of Attorney and Living Wills
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A health care power of attorney allows you to designate the person of your choice, known as an attorney-in-fact, to make health and medical decisions on your behalf. The attorney-in-fact is allowed to make medical decisions without court supervision.

The attorney-in-fact can consent to health care treatment. The attorney-in-fact can also refuse medical treatment and can withdraw consent to previously administered health care treatment. Health care refers to any care, treatment, service or procedure.

Choosing An Attorney-in-Fact
You can name any person you choose as your attorney-in-fact. Most people choose a spouse or other family member. It is a good idea to nominate an alternate in case your primary designee is unwilling or unable to perform the necessary duties. However, it is not recommended that you select two or more persons to act as co- attorneys-in-fact to avoid conflicts in decision-making.

You can revoke a power of attorney at any time. You must communicate your intent to revoke to your attorney-in-fact either orally or in writing. If you are currently undergoing medical treatment, you should also inform your health care provider.

A living will makes your wishes regarding life-sustaining procedures known in writing. Your attorney-in-fact will carry out the stated wishes in your living will.

Living Wills
A living will is a written document telling doctors and hospitals that you do not want to have life-sustaining procedures performed if you become terminally ill and cannot be involved in the decision-making process, if the life-sustaining procedures would only prolong the process of dying.

Any competent adult over the age of 18 can make a living will. The living will can be made before or after diagnosis of a terminal illness.

The living will must be signed in front of two witnesses or a notary public. Witnesses should be over the age of 18 and if possible should not be relatives of the person making the living will. A health care provider or the employees of a health care provider cannot act as witnesses. The witnesses must also sign the living will.

What To Do With Your Living Will
The original living will must be given to your doctor. You are responsible for providing the living will to the doctor who has the primary responsibility for your care. This doctor is not necessarily your family doctor, although you may want to give a copy to your family doctor for his or her files. You should also tell your family that you have made a living will. Federal law now requires medical facilities to inform patients, before they are admitted, of the right to sign a health care power of attorney or a living will.

Terminal Condition Defined
Iowa law defines a terminal condition as an incurable or irreversible condition that, without life-sustaining procedures to a reasonable degree of medical certainty.results in death within a relatively short period, or a comatose state from which there can be no recovery.

Your attending physician decides if your condition is terminal. Another doctor must confirm this determination. The conclusions must be included in your medical records.

"Life-Sustaining Procedure” Defined
Iowa law defines life-sustaining procedures as any medical procedure that meets these requirements:
1. Use of a mechanical or artificial means to sustain, restore, or replace spontaneous vital function AND
2. Which when applied to a patient in a terminal condition, would only serve to prolong the process of dying.

You can revoke a living will at any time. To revoke a living will, you or someone acting on your behalf, must inform your attending physician of your intent to revoke. The attending physician must then enter your intention into your medical record.