Substitute Decision-Maker (Health Care Agent)

A substitute decision-maker (SDM) is someone who is chosen to make health care decisions for a person should a severe illness or injury prevent a person from making these decisions for himself or herself. The document that grants this decision-making power to the person selected is called a representation agreement, proxy directive, or another name depending on the province or territory.

An SDM may also be called a health care representative, agent, or proxy.

Although laws vary by province or territory, a substitute decision-maker can usually make treatment decisions (if health professionals agree with these decisions) at the end of life or anytime a person can't make these decisions for himself or herself. As soon as a person selects an SDM, it is important to thoroughly discuss and document health care preferences, such as when to continue or abandon life-support measures.

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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