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What's a patient advocate?

A patient advocate makes medical decisions for you if you become unable to make them for yourself. Your doctors and your advocate work together to make sure you receive treatment according to the wishes in your advance directive. 

With your written permission, your patient advocate can make decisions about:

  • Life-sustaining medical treatments
  • Routine care, like eating and taking medications
  • Where you receive care: a nursing home, an assisted living facility or in your own home
Your patient advocate acknowledges the rights and responsibilities of the position by signing the Acceptance by Patient Advocate form (PDF). If your advocate doesn’t sign the form, your Durable Power of Attorney for health care may not be honored.

You can authorize your patient advocate to make sure that you receive all available treatments. Our advance directive form (PDF) has a checklist for you to indicate which treatments you’ll accept and which treatments you’ll refuse. If you have more instructions, you can write them on a separate piece of paper and attach it to your form. 

You can also authorize your patient advocate to withhold life-sustaining treatments like artificial nutrition and hydration. You'll need to say so in your advance directive. You’ll also need to acknowledge that you understand you might die without these treatments.

If you believe your patient advocate isn’t acting according to your wishes, you can file a petition with the probate court in the county where you live. If you have questions, you might want to talk to your attorney.

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