What is an Appointment of a Medical Decision Maker?

An Appointment of a Medical Decision Maker is made under the Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016 (Vic.) (‘the Medical Treatment Act’).  It allows you to specify who has the legal authority to make medical treatment decisions for you, including procedures provided by dental and allied health practitioners, if you are unable to do so in the future.

You are also able to record your values and preferences for your medical treatment, which will help your medical treatment decision maker make the decision you would want.  These values and preferences can be recorded in an Advance Care Directive.  Please see below for further information.

Identifying your Medical Decision Maker

This will be the appointed medical decision maker nominated in the Appointment of Decision Maker Document.  Alternatively, you may have appointed a medical treatment decision maker prior to 12 March, 2018 in a medical enduring power of attorney, an enduring power of attorney for personal matters, or an enduring power of guardianship.  These are all still valid appointments.

If you are unable to make a medical treatment decision maker, the Medical Treatment Act specifies who your medical treatment decision maker is in Victoria.  The first person in the list below who is reasonably available, and willing and able, to make the decision will be your medical treatment decision maker.

  • Your appointed medical treatment decision maker;
  • A guardian appointed by VCAT to make decisions about your medical treatment;
  • The first of the following people who is in a close and continuing relationship with you:
    • Your spouse or domestic partner;
    • Your primary carer (not a paid service provider);
    • Your adult child;
    • Your parent;
    • Your adult sibling.

When you have two or more relatives who are on this list, it will be the eldest.

The extent of power of a Medical Treatment Decision Maker

Your medical treatment decision maker can only make decisions about your treatment when you do not have decision making capacity to make the decision.

Your medical decision maker must make the decision that they reasonably believe that you would make.  They must first consider any relevant instructional directive (which will override their decision making) or a values directive and consider any other expressed relevant preference made by you.  These directives may be contained in an Advance Care Directive that you have in place.  They can make decisions to consent to, or refuse the commencement or continuation of medical treatment or a medical research procedure.

Medical Treatment includes any of the following treatments of a person by a health practitioner for the purposes of diagnosing a physical or mental condition, preventing disease, restoring or replacing bodily function in the face of disease or injury or improving comfort and quality of life:

  • Treatment with physical or surgical therapy;
  • Treatment for mental illness;
  • Treatment with
    • Prescription pharmaceuticals;
    • An approved medical cannabis product;
  • Dental treatment;
  • Palliative care.

The number of medical decision makers you may appoint

 You can only one medical treatment decision maker at a time.  You can also appoint  alternative decision makers.

General

You should be fully aware of the extent of your medical decision maker’s powers under your Appointment and ensure you have appointed appropriate persons.

An appointment of Medical Treatment Decision Maker is a future planning tool that will reduce the stress and problems your family may face if you were ever incapacitated and required medical treatment. The appointment of medical decision maker will ensure that at a time when your friends and family are concerned for your health and well-being your wishes have been made clear.

Advance Care Directive

In summary, you can complete an Advance Care Directive to:

  • Record your values and preferences for your medical treatment to guide your medical treatment decision maker (a values directive); and
  • Make legally binding statements directed to your health practitioners, in which you consent to, or refuse, specific future medical treatment (an instructional directive)

This document needs to be witnessed by your medical practitioner.  We suggest that you discuss this with your health care professional.  If you wish an Advance Care Directive to be prepared for you, please contact our office for further information, as there is a prescribed form that will need to be completed.  Your health care facility is obliged to keep a copy on your medical record.