The Family Health Care Decision Act, passed March 16, 2010, addresses patients who lack decision-making capacity and have no health care proxy. New York state now allows family members or others close to the patient to make health care decisions, including withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment. This doesn’t change how emergency care is delivered, but will impact daily decision making beginning with the Consent to Care signed upon admission.
The attending physician will be asked to certify that the patient lacks decision making capacity, document the reason for lack of capacity, and to authorize a surrogate from the priority list (available on the units and in policy 5.117). Each time that consent would be needed, the certification will be repeated. An attestation block has been added to all of the necessary consent forms for physician attestation and signature.
Office of General Counsel at 762-3366 will assist if there are questions about choosing the surrogate. The UHS policy and procedure went into effect June 7. A complete copy of the policy may be obtained from the Medical Staff Office at 763-6752.