COVID-19 Health Tips

Coronavirus, Health Disparities

Planning Health Care in Advance During COVID-19

It is important to plan ahead in case of sudden illness that may prevent you from making real-time decisions about your medical care. You have the right to make your medical preferences followed, even if you can’t directly communicate them yourself. Planning for those times can help your family and medical team know what decisions to make on your behalf.

You can make your health care wishes known by filling out a legal document called an advance directive. In Massachusetts, this is also called a Health Care Proxy.

You do not need an attorney to fill out a Health Care Proxy.

This document allows you to choose a person you trust to be your Health Care Agent/Proxy. This is the person who will make health care decisions for you only if your doctor determines you are not able to make them for yourself. You can tell your Health Care Agent/Proxy your health care preferences.

You can keep the original Health Care Proxy form in a safe place where it can be found easily. You can also give copies to your primary care doctor and to your Health Care Agent/Proxy.

You can download a Health Care Proxy form here.

Triage Decisions: Appeals Process

In this public health crisis, there may be situations where a hospital makes the decision to withdraw scarce resources from a COVID-19 patient, including the use of a ventilator.

Patients have the right to appeal this decision, as outlined by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health:

The appeal is immediately brought to the hospital’s Triage Review and Support Committee. We suggest that you submit the appeal in writing or via email.

The appeal should explain the grounds for disagreement. Please note that an appeal may not be based on an objection to the overall triage system or process. You may focus on the individual patient’s progress or needs.

The hospital’s Triage Team should explain the grounds for their decision.

The appeals process must occur quickly enough so that it does not harm patients who are in line for scarce resources, such as a ventilator.

At least three Triage Committee members will make a decision, using a simple majority vote. This process can happen by telephone or in person.

The decision of the hospital’s Triage Review and Oversight Committee will be final and documented in detail.

If you have further questions or concerns about an individual situation, you can contact us at or (617) 482-1145.

Check out our upcoming workshop on health care and wills: