Health Care Surrogate Lawyer

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What is a health care surrogate?
A health care surrogate designation is a documents which a person (the “principal”) names one or more persons (“surrogates”) to make health care decisions for the individual when and if the principal can no longer make decisions for him or herself.

When would my surrogate have power to make such decisions?
The surrogates would only have power to make health care decisions once an attending physician , or if capacity is questionable, two physicians, certify that the principal lacks capacity to make his or her own health care decisions.

What authority does the surrogate have?
The Florida statutes set forth the responsibilities of the surrogate; however, the Principal may expand upon that list if he/she specifically does so in the health care surrogate document. 
The Florida statutes provide that a health care surrogate may do the following:

  • Consult with appropriate health care providers to provide informed consent
  • Provide written consent whenever consent is required, including a physician’s order not to resuscitate
  • Access all appropriate medical records of the principal
  • Apply for public benefits, such as Medicare and Medicaid, for the principal
  • Access information relevant to the Principals assets and income, banking and financial records, of the purpose of making public benefits application(s)
  • Authorize the release of the principal’s medical records to appropriate persons to ensure continuity of the principal’s health care
  • Authorize the admission, discharge, or transfer of the principal to or from a health care facility or other facility or program as authorized in the statute
  • Continue to make health care decisions after the appointment of a Guardian for the principal unless the court revokes the authority of the surrogate.

How does a health care surrogate make decisions when he/she may not know the wishes of the Principal?
The surrogates must consider the principal’s “best interests” when making health care decisions on his/her behalf. Such decisions must be made on what the surrogate reasonable believes would have been the principal’s wishes if he/she were capable of communicating such wishes.

Who can I name as my health care surrogate?
Any individual, related or unrelated, to the Principal may serve as the health care surrogate.

Who makes decisions on my behalf if I don’t have a health care surrogate?
Under Florida law, the following is a list, in the order which would be followed of whom the health care provider would allow to make decisions on your behalf without a health care surrogate designation:

  • Guardian
  • Spouse
  • Adult child of the patient, (or if multiple children, the majority decision of the children)
  • Parent of the patient
  • Adult sibling of the patient( or if multiple siblings, the majority decision of the siblings)
  • Adult relative of the parent who has exhibited special care and concern and who has maintained regular contact with the patient
  • Close friend of the patient
  • A licensed clinical social worker selected by a bioethics committee, whose decision is then reviewed by the committee