Last updated 5 December 2016

An advanced health directive is a document in which an individual is able to direct what future medical treatment they will consent to or refuse in particular medical situations. Under the Powers of Attorney Act 1998 (Qld) (Powers of Attorney Act) some key features of the directive include:

  • it only operates if the individual has impaired capacity in relation to ‘healthcare’ treatment (s 36)
  • it can direct the withholding or withdrawal of a life-sustaining measure
  • an individual can make directions in relation to a special healthcare matter
  • it cannot be used to authorise, justify or as an excuse for euthanasia (s 37)
  • it can direct that a person (an attorney) be appointed to make decisions about a health matter if the advance directive is inadequate (s 35(1)(c)).

A ‘special healthcare matter’ in relation to an adult includes the removal of tissue from an adult while alive for donation, sterilisation, termination of pregnancy, participation in special medical research or experimental healthcare (sch 2 ss 6–7 Powers of Attorney Act). Where the individual does not have an advanced health directive and there is no other authorised entity, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal can provide consent for special healthcare other than electroconvulsive therapy or psychotherapy (s 68 Guardianship and Administration Act 2000 (Qld)).