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Required to sign health care proxy at hospital?

I had a strange experience while trying to check my mother into the hospital last week for some semi-emergency care. She is fine now and back at home. However, when we were checking her in, the clerk handed us a health care proxy form and told us we should "consider filling it out." I told her we already had a health care proxy for my mom and didn't need a new one. She seemed a bit put off by this, but eventually let it go. Is there some reason why we should have signed a new proxy? Some law, perhaps?

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No.  There is a federal law known as the Patient Self-Determination Act that requires health care institutions to inform patients about certain health care rights, including the right to execute an advanced directive.  As a result, many institutions offer a health care proxy form to incoming patients.  You are not required to sign one.  If possible, depending on the nature of your mom's medical issues, you may want to bring a copy of her proxy with you the next time she needs medical assistance.  Having the document with you should eliminate any issues and prepare you and the institution to rapidly transfer decision making powers to you, if necessary.  Good luck.

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