Proxy Decision Makers for Medical Treatment

  • In Colorado, no one is given automatic authority to make decisions for another adult, and healthcare providers cannot simply make decisions for patients except in an emergency.
  • The physician (or another provider s/he appoints) has the responsibility to gather together all the people who have an interest in your well-being, for instance your spouse or partner, parents, adult children, grandchildren, brothers or sisters, close friends, or even professional advisors such as clergy, attorneys or financial managers.
  • The group of “interested parties” must agree by consensus which one of them will serve as your “proxy” decision maker. The selection of the “proxy” is documented by your physician in your medical record.
  • Like your healthcare agent, your proxy should act according to your wishes and values, so the proxy should be the one who knows your medical treatment wishes the best.
  • Proxies selected in this way cannot refuse artificial nutrition and hydration for you, unless two doctors agree that such treatment would not help you get well but would only prolong dying.
  • If the group can’t agree on who the proxy should be, then guardianship needs to be pursued through the courts.

NEW! Revisions were made to the Proxy Decision Maker statute in the 2016 Colorado legislative session to create a process for appointing a Proxy Decision Maker for patients who do not have any family members or friends will to serve. Read the summary of these revisions: Summary of 2016 Amendments to Proxy Decision Maker Statute

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