Medical treatment decision maker
Everyone has the right to make their own medical treatment decisions. However, anyone can experience an injury or illness that means they are unable to make decisions, either temporarily or permanently.
If this happens to you, Victoria’s Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016 specifies who has legal authority to make medical treatment decisions for you. This person is called your medical treatment decision maker.
To work out who your medical treatment decision maker is, see the medical treatment decision maker list.
You may want to choose your medical treatment decision maker by appointing someone to this role. This can be part of the process of thinking about your values and preferences for your medical treatment and a process known as 'advance care planning'. Find out more about advance care planning on the Better Health Channel website.
About the role, how to appoint someone, and when an appointment ends
Click on the tabs below for information about the role of your medical treatment decision maker, how to appoint someone, and ending and cancelling an appointment.
Role of your medical treatment decision maker
If you are unable to make a medical treatment decision, your health practitioner will need the consent of your medical treatment decision maker before providing treatment to you.
Your health practitioner will need to seek their consent, unless it is an emergency, or you have consented to, or refused, the particular treatment in advance in an advance care directive.
Read about advance care directives.
Your medical treatment decision maker must make the medical treatment decision they reasonably believe is the decision you would make if you had decision-making capacity.
For this reason, it is helpful for you to talk to your medical treatment decision maker in advance about what is important to you and any preferences you have.
See the right menu for a fact sheet for your medical treatment decision maker that explains their role.
Note: If you are unable to make a medical treatment decision and do not have a medical treatment decision maker, Victoria’s Public Advocate has authority to make significant treatment decisions on your behalf.
How to appoint someone
To be able to appoint your medical treatment decision maker, you must have decision-making capacity to make the appointment.
Whoever you choose should be someone you trust to respect your values and preferences. You can appoint more than one person, but only one person acts at any one time.
For the appointment form, see the Victorian Government health.vic website.
Alternatively, find the form and a checklist of the steps in the OPA booklet Take Control. The form in Take Control allows you to appoint up to two medical treatment decision makers. If you want to appoint more than two medical treatment decision makers, use the long version available on the Victorian Government health.vic website.
You need to sign the form in front of two witnesses.
One must be:
- a registered medical practitioner (medical doctor)
- authorised to witness affidavits.
Neither witness can be a person who is being appointed in the document.
If you cannot physically sign the form, find the version of the signature and witnessing page that you will need on the Victorian Government health.vic website.
Ending and cancelling
The appointment of your medical treatment decision maker ends if:
- you revoke (cancel) the appointment (while you have capacity to do so)
- the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) revokes the power
- you die.
Find the revocation form on the Victorian Government health.vic website.
You should inform your medical treatment decision maker that their appointment has been revoked. You should also inform people who know of the appointment, such as your doctor or hospital.
If resign as a medical treatment decision maker, you must must take all reasonable steps to inform the following people that you resign as medical treatment decision maker:
- the person who appointed you
- any other appointed medical treatment decision maker who was appointed at the same time as you.
Your resignation must be:
- in writing and expressly state an intention to resign
- signed and dated by the appointee
- witnessed by one adult witness.
Find the resignation form on the Victorian Government health.vic websitehealth.vic website.