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N.Y. Pub. Health Law § 2994-d - Requirements for Health Care Decisions Made for Adult Patients by Surrogates

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Surrogate decision makers have “the right to receive medical information and medical records necessary to make informed decisions about the patient's health care.” 


Surrogates may make decisions to withhold or withdraw life sustaining treatment if (1) the patient will likely die within 6 months regardless of treatment or is permanently unconscious, and treatment would place an “extraordinary burden” on the patient; or (2) the patient has “an irreversible or incurable condition” and treatment would be inhumane or extraordinarily burdensome. An ethics review committee must review determinations to withdraw or withhold life sustaining treatment if the patient resides in a residential health care facility or if the patient is in a general hospital and the attending physician disagrees with the surrogate’s decision. 


Physicians do not need to obtain a surrogate’s consent to treatment if an adult patient has already made the relevant treatment decision. Physicians that rely on a patient’s decision must document this reliance in the patient’s medical record.  Physicians must “reasonably” attempt to notify a patient’s surrogate before relying on the patient’s decision. However, if the decision involves the withholding or withdrawal of life sustaining treatment, physicians must diligently attempt to notify the surrogate and document these attempts. 

Current as of June 2015