From 12 March 2018, new legislation will come into force for individuals wishing to appoint medical decision makers in Victoria. The Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016 (Vic) will replace the previous Medical Treatment Act 1988 (Vic) and the ‘Advanced Care Directive’ will replace the current practice of appointing Medical Power of Attorneys.
It is important to note that a Medical Power of Attorney executed prior to 12 March 2018 will continue to be valid and will not require updating.
Whilst Medical Powers of Attorney were only recently overhauled in 2015; they currently provide little flexibility to incorporate personal preferences, beliefs and values as relates to medical treatment. Consequently, this further update to the legislation seeks to achieve an even more simplified, patient-centred care scheme that is consistent with contemporary views and provides greater autonomy in medical treatment should a person become incapacitated. Individuals (‘principals’) will be able to create an ‘Advanced Care Directive’ (‘ACD’) which may contain all or some of the following components:
Appointment of a medical treatment decision maker – the appointment of another person to make medical decisions in line with the principal’s preferences and values as outlined in their ACD;
Instructional directive – outlines whether the principal consents or refuses a particular medical treatment;
Values directive – more general statements about the principal’s preferences and values;
Appointment of a support person – the appointment of a person to collect and interpret information and communicate the decisions of the principal.
If a person loses decision making capability and requires significant medical treatment, health practitioners can refer directly to the instructional directive located in the ACD and execute any relevant orders contained in that document. However, should no instructional directive be included, the health practitioner must consult the appointed medical treatment decision maker for instructions on how to proceed with treatment.