Choosing Those You Trust to Speak for You
At Novant Health, we care about you. We believe that healthcare is a partnership between you and your healthcare providers. We also understand the importance of involving loved ones in your care. Choices and Champions® gives you the opportunity to tell us who you want to help champion your medical care.
A champion is someone who stands up for and supports another person. There are many types of champions who take care of us when we are sick. For example, family and friends who drive us to our appointments, bring us food and keep us company in times of need are champions. So are our doctors and nurses. There are also champions we trust to speak for us when we are not able to make or declare our wishes ourselves.
Selecting your medical champion
If you are ever unable to make your own medical decisions, your doctor will need a champion, or healthcare agent, to speak for you. This should be someone who knows you well and understands your health goals. Ideally, this person should:
- Know about your health condition, symptoms and medical history
- Pay attention to all important facts and details when making decisions, and be available to help follow up with treatment plans
- Understand his or her duties, and be seriously committed to fulfilling them
- Work well with others who may be involved in your life and care
- Be trusted to do his or her best to honor your wishes
- Respect your beliefs and values, even if they differ from his or her own
- Be willing to stand up for your rights
- Be available when needed
Learn more about the characteristics of an ideal healthcare agent »
Learn more about the characteristics of an ideal healthcare agent (Spanish version) »
Once you've decided who you trust to speak for you, we encourage you to name this person as your healthcare agent using a Health Care Power of Attorney form.
A healthcare agent has the legal authority to make decisions for you if you cannot. Without this authority, the person you’ve picked to be your champion may not be recognized as your legal decision maker. That’s because, legally, any medical decisions would be made by only those family members or other individuals determined by state law. By choosing your champion and designating him or her as your healthcare agent in advance, you get to decide who makes decisions for you, not the state. In addition, a healthcare agent can more easily obtain medical record information and sign documents related to your care.
Before formally naming a champion healthcare agent, be sure that person understands what the roles and responsibilities would be:
Roles and responsibilities of the healthcare agent »
Roles and responsibilities of the healthcare agent (Spanish version) »
Choices and Champions® is a recipient of the American Hospital Association’s prestigious Circle of Life Award. In 2020, Novant Health was one of only two programs to be nationally recognized for our innovations in end of life care.
Who will make my medical decisions if I don't make a choice?
Recognizing your legal decision makers
If you do not have a healthcare agent or guardian, and you are not able to make your own medical decisions, the law specifies who is given the legal right to make decisions for you. This power is given by the state – not your doctor or the hospital where you are a patient. Below is a list of people – in the order listed – who will be given this authority, depending on the state in which you are being treated.
- Your husband or wife (even if you are legally separated); or
- A majority of your reasonably available parents and children who are at least 18 years old; or
- A majority of your reasonably available brothers and sisters who are at least 18 years old; or
- An individual who has an established relationship with you, is willing to act on your behalf and can reliably convey your wishes.
If none of these people are reasonably available, your doctor may provide treatment without your consent as long as another doctor agrees that you need the treatment
- Your husband or wife (unless you are formally separated); or
- Your parent or adult child; or
- Any of your adult brothers, sisters, grandparents or grandchildren; or
- Any other relative by blood or marriage who is reasonably believed to have a close personal relationship with you.
Any of the individuals listed above will not have priority over others if your healthcare provider had actual knowledge that you did not want that person involved in decisions concerning your care.
- Your husband or wife (but not if a divorce action has been filed); or
- Your adult child; or
- Your parent; or
- Your adult brother or sister; or
- Any other relative in descending order of blood relationship; or
- Any adult who:
- is not a director, employee or agent of the healthcare facility where you are being treated;
- has exhibited special care and concern for you; and
- is familiar with your religious beliefs, basic values and preferences previously expressed by you. NOTE: Two physicians must decide whether an adult meets these criteria. Any adult appointed in this capacity cannot give consent to withhold or withdraw a life-prolonging procedure.