Terminating Life Support – Immunity
31-32-7. Duties and responsibilities of health care agents
(a) A health care agent shall not have the authority to make a particular health care decision different from or contrary to the declarant’s decision, if any, if the declarant is able to understand the general nature of the health care procedure being consented to or refused, as determined by the declarant’s attending physician based on such physician’s good faith judgment.
(b) A health care agent shall be under no duty to exercise granted powers or to assume control of or responsibility for the declarant’s health care; provided, however, that when granted powers are exercised, the health care agent shall use due care to act for the benefit of the declarant in accordance with the terms of the advance directive for health care. A health care agent shall exercise granted powers in such manner as the health care agent deems consistent with the intentions and desires of the declarant. If a declarant’s intentions and desires are unclear, the health care agent shall act in the declarant’s best interest considering the benefits, burdens, and risks of the declarant’s circumstances and treatment options.
(c) A health care agent may act in person or through others reasonably employed by the health care agent for that purpose but may not delegate authority to make health care decisions.
(d) A health care agent may sign and deliver all instruments, negotiate and enter into all agreements, and do all other acts reasonably necessary to implement the exercise of the powers granted to the health care agent. A health care agent shall be authorized to accompany a declarant in an ambulance or air ambulance if in the opinion of the ambulance personnel protocol permits a passenger and to visit or consult in person with a declarant who is admitted to a health care facility if the health care facility’s protocol permits such visitation.
(e) The form of advance directive for health care contained in Code Section 31-32-4 shall, and any different form of advance directive for health care may, include the following powers, subject to any limitations appearing on the face of the form:
(1) The health care agent is authorized to consent to and authorize or refuse, or to withhold or withdraw consent to, any and all types of medical care, treatment, or procedures relating to the physical or mental health of the declarant, including any medication program, surgical procedures, life-sustaining procedures, or provision of nourishment or hydration for the declarant, but not including psychosurgery, sterilization, or involuntary hospitalization or treatment covered by Title 37;
(2) The health care agent is authorized to admit the declarant to or discharge the declarant from any health care facility;
(3) The health care agent is authorized to contract for any health care facility or service in the name of and on behalf of the declarant and to bind the declarant to pay for all such services, and the health care agent shall not be personally liable for any services or care contracted for or on behalf of the declarant;
(4) At the declarant’s expense and subject to reasonable rules of the health care provider to prevent disruption of the declarant’s health care, the health care agent shall have the same right the declarant has to examine and copy and consent to disclosure of all the declarant’s medical records that the health care agent deems relevant to the exercise of the agent’s powers, whether the records relate to mental health or any other medical condition and whether they are in the possession of or maintained by any physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, health care facility, or other health care provider, notwithstanding the provisions of any statute or other rule of law to the contrary; and
(5) Unless otherwise provided, the health care agent is authorized to direct that an autopsy of the declarant’s body be made; to make an anatomical gift of any part or all of the declarant’s body pursuant to Article 6 of Chapter 5 of Title 44, the “Georgia Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act”; and to direct the final disposition of the declarant’s body, including funeral arrangements, burial, or cremation.
(f) A court may remove a health care agent if it finds that the health care agent is not acting properly.
HISTORY: Code 1981, § 31-32-7, enacted by Ga. L. 2007, p. 133, § 2/HB 24; Ga. L. 2008, p. 503, § 4/SB 405.
DISCLAIMER – Some of these codes have been amended over the years, and they can be amended again by the legislature at any time. For some codes you use the version that existed at the time the malpractice occurred, but for others you use the version of the code that exists at the time you go to trial. We show you these codes for general education purposes, but you should always consult an experienced Georgia medical malpractice attorney before relying on these provisions.
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