Appointments of Medical Treatment Decision Makers

Powers of Attorney The authority given by an Appointment of Medical Treatment Decision Maker (formerly called an Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical Treatment)) allows a medical decision maker to make decisions about a person's Medical Treatment in the event that the person loses mental capacity.

A decision in relation to Medical Treatment includes a decision to consent to or refuse the commencement or continuation of Medical Treatment. A person's medical treatment decision maker may also consent to the administration of a medical research procedure to the person if the medical treatment decision maker reasonably believes that the person would have consented to the procedure if the person had decision-making capacity.

"Medical Treatment" is defined by the Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016 to mean any of the following treatments 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, namely:

  1. Treatment with physical or surgical therapy;
  2. Treatment for mental illness;
  3. Treatment with:
    • prescription pharmaceuticals; or
    • an approved medicinal cannabis product within the meaning of the Access to Medicinal Cannabis Act 2016;
  4. Dental treatment; and
  5. Palliative care.

Once completed, the Appointment of Medical Treatment Decision Makers needs to be properly signed and witnessed.

A person who, for any reason, becomes incapacitated may require assistance for the rest of his or her life. The obligations of a medical treatment decision maker may last many years.

Every person's personal circumstances are different. Phillip Graham is experienced in helping people make the right decisions about these issues.

We will ensure that your Appointment of Medical Treatment Decision Maker document is properly prepared, signed and witnessed. We will also prepare certified copies together with letters addressed to your decision makers.

Our letters to a client's decision makers advise them of the important duties binding upon them pursuant to the Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016. Our letters even set out the relevant sections of the Act. There is no additional cost for the preparation of these letters.

In the first instance we send the certified copies of the Appointment of Medical Treatment Decision Maker (together with letters addressed to the decision makers) to our clients. If a client does not envisage any circumstance in the foreseeable future where they would want their decision makers to make any medical decisions on their behalf, we advise them to retain all certified copies of the Appointment (and our letters to the decision makers) until our client's circumstances change.

Enduring appointments are important tools that allow people to choose who will make decisions for them. Choosing the right persons to make these decisions is critical. In the wrong hands, the powers conferred by an appointment of this kind may lead to psychological and/or financial abuse. This is commonly known as elder abuse.

The individual dynamics of a person's family and other relationships need to be properly assessed and carefully factored into the drafting of these documents. Without experienced professional guidance a person may well finish up with an appointment of a medical treatment decision maker that may have adverse consequences well beyond a person's expectations.

Powers of Attorney (generally) It is a mistake to think that Powers of Attorney are only required for the elderly or frail. Accident, injury or illness can strike at any age or stage of life. We recommend that every adult should have properly prepared Powers of Attorney in place just in case.

A Power of Attorney can only be made by a person when that person is mentally competent to do so. If a sudden lack of capacity occurs, it is too late. In such situations it is usually a person's next-of-kin who must make application to the Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for appointment as administrator and/or guardian of the affected person.

VCAT deals with these applications as informally and compassionately as the circumstances permit. However, an application to VCAT, particularly one that is opposed, can be a stressful and emotionally difficult process. This is particularly so given that the application is often made in the aftermath of an accident or health event that has caused substantial disability to a loved one.

VCAT will require the applicant to provide evidence (including medical evidence) in support of the application, to give notice of the application to all relevant persons and to attend a formal hearing. If more than one person applies to VCAT for appointment, the proceeding can be disputed and extremely stressful. Parties sometimes even require legal representation.

All of this can be avoided by ensuring that a properly prepared Appointment of Medical Treatment Decision Maker is in place before any accident, injury or illness occurs.

Phillip Graham is experienced in assisting his clients to make the right choices for their attorney(s). Phillip's life experiences over more than 60 years and legal experiences over more than 40 years stand him in excellent stead to give considered advice.