Process approved for health care surrogacy

The Legislature passed a bill March 29 that allows people to make health care decisions for certain adults and emancipated minors.

<a href='http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist29' target='_blank' title='Link to the website of Sen. Kate Bolz'>Sen. Kate Bolz</a>
Sen. Kate Bolz

Under LB104, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Kate Bolz, a patient can designate a surrogate to make health care decisions on his or her behalf in the event that the patient becomes incapacitated.

In the absence of a formal designation, a member of the patient’s family can act as surrogate in the following descending order of priority: spouse, adult child, parent or adult sibling. If no family member is available to serve as a surrogate, an adult who has exhibited special care and concern for the patient and is familiar with the patient’s personal values may be designated as surrogate.

If multiple people of equal standing assume authority as a surrogate but they disagree on a health care decision, the supervising health care provider will comply with the majority decision.

A surrogate will be required to make health care decisions in accordance with the patient’s instructions and wishes, if known. Otherwise decisions must be made in the patient’s best interests, taking into account his or her personal values.

Decisions made by a health care surrogate will not require judicial approval.

The bill specifically prohibits an owner, operator or employee of a health care facility at which the patient is residing or receiving care from acting as a surrogate. An exception can be made if that person is related to the patient by blood, marriage or adoption.

The bill passed on a 48-0 vote.

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