Upcoming changes to medical decision making laws
Medical decision making laws will change on 12 March 2018 when the Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016 starts.
Appointing someone to make medical treatment decisions
From 12 March 2018, a person can appoint a medical treatment decision maker with authority to make medical treatment decisions.. A person will no longer make a medical enduring power of attorney to do this.
A medical enduring power of attorney made before the law changes will be recognised under the new Act. This means there is no need for legal documents made before 12 March 2018 to be redone.
Appointing a medical treatment decision maker from 12 March 2018
There are formal requirements that will need to be met when a person appoints their medical treatment decision maker, including witnessing requirements.
In March 2018, OPA will have a new edition of Take Control with step-by-step instructions about how to do this.
If a medical treatment decision maker hasn’t been appointed, the Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act specifies who has legal authority to make medical treatment decisions for a person who is unable to make these decisions. For example, this may be the person’s domestic partner.
Advance care directive
From 12 March 2018, the new laws will allow for the creation of new legal documents called advance care directives. Advance care directives may include either or both:
- an instructional directive with legally binding instructions about future treatment the person consents to or refuses
- a values directive which documents the person’s values and preferences for future medical treatment.
How medical treatment decision makers will make decisions
A medical treatment decision maker will need to make the decision they believe is the decision the person who appointed them would have made. To do this, they consider (in this order):
- any valid and relevant values and preferences in the person’s advance care directive (if they have made one)
- preferences that the person has expressed, taking into account the circumstances in which the person expressed those preferences.
The enduring power of attorney
After the law changes, a person can still make an enduring power of attorney to appoint someone with authority to make decisions about their financial and personal matters. It is important to note that personal matters will no longer include health care matters.
Read more about the upcoming changes on the Department of Health and Human Services health.vic website.