A Health Care Surrogate Makes Health Care Decisions When You are Incapacitated
When you prepare a Health Care Surrogate, you are the principal and the person you designate to make health care decisions for you is called a surrogate. The surrogate makes health care decisions on your behalf when you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself. It is important for you to articulate in the document naming your Health Care Surrogate what your wishes are concerning your health.
Unless you expressly state any limitations, under Florida law, your surrogate will have access to your medical records to assist him or her with decision making. The surrogate can consent to medical or surgical procedures and make all decisions concerning end-of-life care including organ donation.
The surrogate essentially stands in your shoes and is charged with the duty of carrying out your instructions. If a situation arises that your instructions did not contemplate and do not provide for, the surrogate makes the decision based on what you would do or what is in your best interest. This includes pursuing or withdrawing treatment.
At our Wills, Trusts, Probate and Elder Law Firm, PLLC, in Sarasota, Florida, we draft your Health Care Surrogate so you do not have to be concerned about what will happen to you if you become unable to make health care decisions for yourself.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ON HEALTH CARE SURROGATE LAW
Health Care Advanced Directives are governed by Chapter 765 of the Florida Statutes.
Simply put, a health care surrogate is a legal document where you name someone to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself. Unless the document states a time of termination, the designation shall remain in effect until revoked by the principal.
You, the person creating/signing the document are called the “principal”. The person the principal designates to carry out the medical decisions for them is called the “surrogate”.
HEALTH CARE DECISIONS DEFINED
“Health care decisions” are defined by Florida Statute as:
(a) Informed consent, refusal of consent, or withdrawal of consent to any and all health care, including life-prolonging procedures and mental health treatment, unless otherwise stated in the advance directives.
(b) The decision to apply for private, public, government, or veterans’ benefits to defray the cost of health care.
(c) The right of access to all records of the principal reasonably necessary for a health care surrogate to make decisions involving health care and to apply for benefits.
(d) The decision to make an anatomical gift pursuant to part V of this chapter.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE SURROGATE
(1) The surrogate, in accordance with the principal’s instructions, unless such authority has been expressly limited by the principal, shall:
(a) Have authority to act for the principal and to make all health care decisions for the principal during the principal’s incapacity.
(b) Consult expeditiously with appropriate health care providers to provide informed consent, and make only health care decisions for the principal which he or she believes the principal would have made under the circumstances if the principal were capable of making such decisions. If there is no indication of what the principal would have chosen, the surrogate may consider the patient’s best interest in deciding that proposed treatments are to be withheld or that treatments currently in effect are to be withdrawn.
(c) Provide written consent using an appropriate form whenever consent is required, including a physician’s order not to resuscitate.
(d) Be provided access to the appropriate medical records of the principal.
(e) Apply for public benefits, such as Medicare and Medicaid, for the principal and have access to information regarding the principal’s income and assets and banking and financial records to the extent required to make application. A health care provider or facility may not, however, make such application a condition of continued care if the principal, if capable, would have refused to apply.
(2) The surrogate may authorize the release of information and medical records to appropriate persons to ensure the continuity of the principal’s health care and may authorize the admission, discharge, or transfer of the principal to or from a health care facility or other facility or program licensed under chapter 400 or chapter 429.
(3) If, after the appointment of a surrogate, a court appoints a guardian, the surrogate shall continue to make health care decisions for the principal, unless the court has modified or revoked the authority of the surrogate pursuant to s. 744.3115. The surrogate may be directed by the court to report the principal’s health care status to the guardian.
The material above represents general legal advice. Since the law is continually changing, some provisions may, or may not apply to you. Some provisions may have exceptions you need to be aware of. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities regarding your particular case.
Please contact us to discuss any specific situation or needs you may have to see how we may be able to assist in reaching a resolution. We offer a free thirty (30) minute consultation to see if we can help.