Designation of Health Care Surrogate

Designation of Health Care Surrogate

Presently, there are nearly 90 million Americans over the age of 55. That is almost 30 percent of the population and that number continues to grow ever year.[1] As a person grows older, the more likely that an unfortunate event like a major illness or some other unforeseen event causes the person to become incapacitated. An important tool for planning for incapacity is the Designation of Health Care Surrogate.  One example where the designation of health care surrogate is utilized is when the person is heavily sedated and is not able to provide informed consent regarding medical treatment that may be too risky but is necessary under the circumstances.

What is the Designation of Healthcare Surrogate?

A designation of health care surrogate allows the principal (person designating a health care surrogate) to appoint an agent to make health care decisions or receive protected health information, or both, on the principal’s behalf in the event the principal becomes incapacitated or is not able to make his or her own health care decisions.[2] The health care surrogate can be any competent adult appointed by the principal. This gives the principal the freedom to select the person most likely to carry out his or her wishes. The designation of health care surrogate can also be used to provide express directions or restrictions regarding the principal’s wishes about medical treatment and the powers the health care surrogate will have. The designated health care surrogate must act according to the instructions of the designation. This allows the principal to dictate the medical treatments he or she wants to receive under certain circumstances. To the extent that there are no instructions regarding a particular health care decision, the health care surrogate must make decisions based on the principal’s best interests. The designation of health care surrogate can be revoked if the principal so choses as long as he or she has the capacity to do so.

The designation of healthcare surrogate is extremely broad unless the principal provided instructions with regards to specific situations and decisions the health care surrogate must make. If the principal does want to make specific decisions, it is recommended that the principal create a living will which can give specific instructions with multiple different scenarios. This will give the principal and the health care surrogate the peace of mind as it will take the decision-making power away from the health care surrogate if there is situation in which the health care surrogate is not comfortable making a decision or is unaware of the principal’s exact wishes.

Healthcare Surrogate Requirements

For the designation of healthcare surrogate to be valid in Florida, a few requirements must be met:

  1. The principle and the surrogate must be identified in the designation;
  2. The time of commencement for the designation to take effect (immediately or upon incapacity);
  3. The designation must be signed by the principal in the presence of two witness who must also sign the document in the presence of the principal;
  4. The witnesses must be at least 18 years old;
  5. The surrogate cannot be a witness; and
  6. At least one of the witness must not be the principal’s spouse or blood relative.[3]

Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding the designation of a health care surrogate in Florida. Our office is conveniently located in downtown Doral. Call us today and let our law firm help you.

 

[1] U.S. Census Bureau, QuickFacts U.S., available at https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045217 (last updated July 1, 2017).

[2] Fla. Stat. 765.202(2018).

[3] Fla. Stat. 765.202.