Bioethics Blogs

Colorado Addresses Decision Making for Unrepresented Patients

Congratulations Colorado for introducing H.B. 1101.  This bill attempts to address how medical decisions are made for incapacitated patients without available authorized surrogates.  This is a huge and largely unaddressed problem in Colorado and the United States.  

“An attending physician or his or her designee (physician) may make health care treatment decisions as a patient’s proxy decision-maker if: 

  • After  making  reasonable  efforts,  the  physician  cannot or none of the   interested persons   are   willing   and   able   to   serve   as     proxy decision-maker
  • The attending physician has obtained an independent assessment of decisional capacity by another health care provider; and
  • The physician has  consulted  with  and  obtained an agreement with the medical ethics committee of the health care facility where the patient is receiving care. If the health care facility does not have a medical ethics committee, the facility shall refer the physician to a party that can provide consultation and recommendations.”

“The authority of the physician to act as proxy decision-maker terminates in the event an interested person is willing to serve as proxy decision-maker or a guardian is appointed.”

“When  acting  in  good  faith  as  the  proxy  decision-maker, an or her designee is not subject to civil or l liability or regulatory sanction.”

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.