An Oklahoma Advance Directive lets residents formally write their health care preferences. In a situation (like a medical emergency) where they cannot communicate those preferences, this legal document tells medical personnel which actions to take (like whether to resuscitate them or not).
As you draft and complete your form, you may see these critical terms as per § 63-3101.3:
- Attending physician: The medical professional who is primarily responsible for the patient. It would be best to inform the attending physician of your advance health care directive for it to become valid.
- Declarant: The person who issues the document. If you create this document, you are the declarant.
- Qualified patient: Any adult patient who has executed an Advance Directive for health care in Oklahoma is determined to be incapacitated. If you complete the form and cannot make informed decisions about your healthcare, you will be referred to as a qualified patient at that time.
- Life-sustaining treatment: Any healthcare procedure that exclusively extends the process of dying rather than provides a permanent cure for the patient.
- Terminal condition: An irreversible health problem leading to the qualified patient’s death within six months, according to the attending physician and at least one additional doctor.
Choosing Your Agent
In Oklahoma, your agent, sometimes called a “health care proxy,” will receive considerable authority over your medical care when you designate them in your Advance Directive form and once declared incapacitated. Given the scope of this responsibility, you must choose your agent carefully.
Key factors that you should consider when making this decision include:
- Maturity. Your agent is legally required to be at least 18 years old. However, age alone should not determine whether a particular person is suitable. Some people can handle the responsibilities of this job at a young age, while others are never equipped to bear this emotional burden.
- Personal convictions. What are your agent’s beliefs regarding end-of-life care? Could they violate their own beliefs if instructed in your Advance Directive? While you and your agent need not agree on every matter, you should at least feel confident that this person will carry out your wishes.
- Financial interests. Oklahoma prohibits anybody who can gain financially from acting as a witness for your Advance Health Care Directive. The same principle can also be applied to your agent. People generally prefer to select agents who will not be impacted by the financial implications of this document but are legally permitted to do so if they so choose.
Depending on your situation and stated preferences in your Advance Healthcare Directive, your agent may take the following actions on your behalf:
- Secure access to relevant medical records.
- Approve the use of various medications or procedures. Admit you to or withdraw you from a particular medical facility.
Your healthcare agent can make these and other decisions as soon as the attending physician has determined that you cannot make informed choices.
The more specific your language is in your Oklahoma Advance Directive, the better. If you fail to provide specific details, your agent will need to use their best judgment based on what they believe you would want. Your agent is expected to abide by your stated wishes regardless of the influence of other people.
Note, however, that § 63.3101.2 of the Oklahoma Statutes clearly states that your agent’s decision-making powers do not extend to assisted suicide — nor can plans for euthanasia be outlined in a valid Advance Directive.