In the Healthcare Power of Attorney you appoint a Health Care Agent to make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so yourself. The authority given to the Health Care Agent is broad, even to the extent of instituting a Do Not Resuscitate Order.
The Healthcare Power of Attorney also grants the Agent access to your health records under the HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) privacy statute. Without this written authorization, the medical community is barred under federal law from disclosing medical records or information to third parties.
Pennsylvania law does identify persons who are deemed to be Health Care Agents in the event a written Healthcare Power of Attorney does not exist. If you want to be certain that the person you prefer to act as Healthcare Agent does no, this document is a necessity.