N.Y. Public Health Law Section 2994-C
Determination of incapacity


1.

Presumption of capacity. For purposes of this article, every adult shall be presumed to have decision-making capacity unless determined otherwise pursuant to this section or pursuant to court order, or unless a guardian is authorized to decide about health care for the adult pursuant to article eighty-one of the mental hygiene law.

2.

Initial determination by attending practitioner. An attending practitioner shall make an initial determination that an adult patient lacks decision-making capacity to a reasonable degree of medical certainty. Such determination shall include an assessment of the cause and extent of the patient’s incapacity and the likelihood that the patient will regain decision-making capacity.

3.

Concurring determinations.

(a)

An initial determination that a patient lacks decision-making capacity shall be subject to a concurring determination, independently made, where required by this subdivision. A concurring determination shall include an assessment of the cause and extent of the patient’s incapacity and the likelihood that the patient will regain decision-making capacity, and shall be included in the patient’s medical record. Hospitals shall adopt written policies identifying the training and credentials of health or social services practitioners qualified to provide concurring determinations of incapacity.

(b)

(i) In a residential health care facility, a health or social services practitioner employed by or otherwise formally affiliated with the facility must independently determine whether an adult patient lacks decision-making capacity.

(ii)

In a general hospital a health or social services practitioner employed by or otherwise formally affiliated with the facility must independently determine whether an adult patient lacks decision-making capacity if the surrogate’s decision concerns the withdrawal or withholding of life-sustaining treatment.

(iii)

With respect to decisions regarding hospice care for a patient in a general hospital or residential health care facility, the health or social services practitioner must be employed by or otherwise formally affiliated with the general hospital or residential health care facility.

(c)

(i) If the attending practitioner makes an initial determination that a patient lacks decision-making capacity because of mental illness, either such physician must have the following qualifications, or another physician with the following qualifications must independently determine whether the patient lacks decision-making capacity: a physician licensed to practice medicine in New York state, who is a diplomate or eligible to be certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology or who is certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Neurology and Psychiatry or is eligible to be certified by that board. A record of such consultation shall be included in the patient’s medical record.

(ii)

If the attending practitioner makes an initial determination that a patient lacks decision-making capacity because of a developmental disability, either such physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant must have the following qualifications, or another professional with the following qualifications must independently determine whether the patient lacks decision-making capacity: a physician or clinical psychologist who either is employed by a developmental disabilities services office named in section 13.17 of the mental hygiene law, or who has been employed for a minimum of two years to render care and service in a facility operated or licensed by the office for people with developmental disabilities, or has been approved by the commissioner of developmental disabilities in accordance with regulations promulgated by such commissioner. Such regulations shall require that a physician or clinical psychologist possess specialized training or three years experience in treating developmental disabilities. A record of such consultation shall be included in the patient’s medical record.

(d)

If an attending practitioner has determined that the patient lacks decision-making capacity and if the health or social services practitioner consulted for a concurring determination disagrees with the attending practitioner’s determination, the matter shall be referred to the ethics review committee if it cannot otherwise be resolved.

4.

Informing the patient and surrogate. Notice of a determination that a surrogate will make health care decisions because the adult patient has been determined to lack decision-making capacity shall promptly be given:

(a)

to the patient, where there is any indication of the patient’s ability to comprehend the information;

(b)

to at least one person on the surrogate list highest in order of priority listed when persons in prior classes are not reasonably available pursuant to subdivision one of § 2994-D (Health care decisions for adult patients by surrogates)section twenty-nine hundred ninety-four-d of this article;

(c)

if the patient is in a hospital as defined in subdivision ten of section 1.03 of the mental hygiene law or was transferred from a mental hygiene facility, to the director of the mental hygiene facility and to the mental hygiene legal service under article forty-seven of the mental hygiene law.

5.

Limited purpose of determination. A determination made pursuant to this section that an adult patient lacks decision-making capacity shall not be construed as a finding that the patient lacks capacity for any other purpose.

6.

Priority of patient’s decision. Notwithstanding a determination pursuant to this section that an adult patient lacks decision-making capacity, if the patient objects to the determination of incapacity, or to the choice of a surrogate or to a health care decision made by a surrogate or made pursuant to § 2994-G (Health care decisions for adult patients without surrogates)section twenty-nine hundred ninety-four-g of this article, the patient’s objection or decision shall prevail unless:

(a)

a court of competent jurisdiction has determined that the patient lacks decision-making capacity or the patient is or has been adjudged incompetent for all purposes and, in the case of a patient’s objection to treatment, makes any other finding required by law to authorize the treatment, or

(b)

another legal basis exists for overriding the patient’s decision.

7.

Confirmation of continued lack of decision-making capacity. An attending practitioner shall confirm the adult patient’s continued lack of decision-making capacity before complying with health care decisions made pursuant to this article, other than those decisions made at or about the time of the initial determination. A concurring determination of the patient’s continued lack of decision-making capacity shall be required if the subsequent health care decision concerns the withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment. Health care providers shall not be required to inform the patient or surrogate of the confirmation.

Source: Section 2994-C — Determination of incapacity, https://www.­nysenate.­gov/legislation/laws/PBH/2994-C (updated Mar. 29, 2024; accessed Jul. 13, 2024).

Accessed:
Jul. 13, 2024

Last modified:
Mar. 29, 2024

§ 2994-C’s source at nysenate​.gov

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