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October 01, 2018 Results of a 50- state survey

Health Care Power of Attorney Chart Updated

Gabriel Estridge

The Commission on Law and Aging has developed an additional State Health Care Power of Attorney 50-state survey chart covering additional details on surrogate decision-making.

This chart outlines statutory rules in each jurisdiction for the transfer of health-care decision-making authority to a surrogate, agent or proxy, for patients who lose capacity. The new chart explains in which jurisdictions physician certification is needed prior to either transfer of healthcare decision-making authority, or the decision to remove life prolonging care (including artificial hydration and nutrition) from a patient.

These rules vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Prior to withdrawal of life prolonging care, some states require an independent diagnosis by a second physician. Other states require the diagnosis to be made by physicians of a particular specialty; still others allow nurse practitioners to make the determination that the patient is unable to make healthcare decisions.

These differences in certification requirements are a great reason why a comprehensively assembled chart is needed. This resource will enable attorneys, medical staff, and family alike to quickly ascertain the requirements in any given jurisdiction. Certification requirements prior to removal of life-support added.

To view the new chart, visit:

Gabriel Estridge is a JD candidate at George Washington University, Washington, DC, and a former student intern to the ABA Commission on Law and Aging.