On 12 March 2018, the new Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016 came into force.
The legislation is designed to provide us with the opportunity to have greater control over our medical treatment in the future. Under the new legislation, we are now able to make binding Advanced Care Directives which can include our instructions with respect to medical treatment or our values which influence the medical treatment we would, or would not, consent to.
An Advanced Care Directive can be as specific as incorporating instructions regarding what medical treatment interventions you would consent to (such as, whether you would consent to life-prolonging medical treatment if you were diagnosed with a terminal illness), and as such, it is fitting that these will not be prepared by Lawyers, but by Medical Practitioners.
At Coulter Legal, we look forward to being able to assist local Medical Practitioners with navigating the new legislation and consider the new legislation will enable Lawyers and Medical Practitioners to better ensure clients and patients have as much autonomy as possible when it comes to their future medical treatment decisions.
The legislation also facilitates the replacement of ‘Medical Treatment Powers of Attorney’ by providing for the appointment of a Medical Treatment Decision Maker, who will be empowered to make medical treatment decisions if we no longer possess decision making capacity.
We can appoint multiple Medical Treatment Decision Makers; however, only one Medical Treatment Decision Maker can act at a time. Practically, this will mean that when a medical treatment decision is required to be made, the Medical Practitioner will consult the appointed Medical Treatment Decision Makers, in order of their hierarchy within the document appointing them.
Within this first week of the new legislation becoming operative, a number of our clients have already enjoyed the flexibility of being able to appoint more than just the previous maximum of two Medical Treatment Decision Makers. This ensures they have greater control over who will be empowered to make medical treatment decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated.
If you require advice or further information in relation to any of the matters discussed in this article, please contact our Wills, Estates and Succession Planning team on 03 5273 5273.
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