N.Y. Public Health Law Section 2994-D
Health care decisions for adult patients by surrogates


1.

Identifying the surrogate. One person from the following list from the class highest in priority when persons in prior classes are not reasonably available, willing, and competent to act, shall be the surrogate for an adult patient who lacks decision-making capacity. However, such person may designate any other person on the list to be surrogate, provided no one in a class higher in priority than the person designated objects:

(a)

A guardian authorized to decide about health care pursuant to article eighty-one of the mental hygiene law;

(b)

The spouse, if not legally separated from the patient, or the domestic partner;

(c)

A son or daughter eighteen years of age or older;

(d)

A parent;

(e)

A brother or sister eighteen years of age or older;

(f)

A close friend.

2.

Restrictions on who may be a surrogate. An operator, administrator, or employee of a hospital or a mental hygiene facility from which the patient was transferred, or a physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant who has privileges at the hospital or a health care provider under contract with the hospital may not serve as the surrogate for any adult who is a patient of such hospital, unless such individual is related to the patient by blood, marriage, domestic partnership, or adoption, or is a close friend of the patient whose friendship with the patient preceded the patient’s admission to the facility. If a physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant serves as surrogate, the physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant shall not act as the patient’s attending practitioner after his or her authority as surrogate begins.

3.

Authority and duties of surrogate.

(a)

Scope of surrogate’s authority.

(i)

Subject to the standards and limitations of this article, the surrogate shall have the authority to make any and all health care decisions on the adult patient’s behalf that the patient could make.

(ii)

Nothing in this article shall obligate health care providers to seek the consent of a surrogate if an adult patient has already made a decision about the proposed health care, expressed orally or in writing or, with respect to a decision to withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment expressed either orally during hospitalization in the presence of two witnesses eighteen years of age or older, at least one of whom is a health or social services practitioner affiliated with the hospital, or in writing. If an attending practitioner relies on the patient’s prior decision, the physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant shall record the prior decision in the patient’s medical record. If a surrogate has already been designated for the patient, the attending practitioner shall make reasonable efforts to notify the surrogate prior to implementing the decision; provided that in the case of a decision to withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment, the attending practitioner shall make diligent efforts to notify the surrogate and, if unable to notify the surrogate, shall document the efforts that were made to do so.

(b)

Commencement of surrogate’s authority. The surrogate’s authority shall commence upon a determination, made pursuant to § 2994-C (Determination of incapacity)section twenty-nine hundred ninety-four-c of this article, that the adult patient lacks decision-making capacity and upon identification of a surrogate pursuant to subdivision one of this section. In the event an attending practitioner determines that the patient has regained decision-making capacity, the authority of the surrogate shall cease.

(c)

Right and duty to be informed. Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the surrogate shall have the right to receive medical information and medical records necessary to make informed decisions about the patient’s health care. Health care providers shall provide and the surrogate shall seek information necessary to make an informed decision, including information about the patient’s diagnosis, prognosis, the nature and consequences of proposed health care, and the benefits and risks of and alternatives to proposed health care.

4.

Decision-making standards.

(a)

The surrogate shall make health care decisions:

(i)

in accordance with the patient’s wishes, including the patient’s religious and moral beliefs; or

(ii)

if the patient’s wishes are not reasonably known and cannot with reasonable diligence be ascertained, in accordance with the patient’s best interests. An assessment of the patient’s best interests shall include: consideration of the dignity and uniqueness of every person; the possibility and extent of preserving the patient’s life; the preservation, improvement or restoration of the patient’s health or functioning; the relief of the patient’s suffering; and any medical condition and such other concerns and values as a reasonable person in the patient’s circumstances would wish to consider.

(b)

In all cases, the surrogate’s assessment of the patient’s wishes and best interests shall be patient-centered; health care decisions shall be made on an individualized basis for each patient, and shall be consistent with the values of the patient, including the patient’s religious and moral beliefs, to the extent reasonably possible.

5.

Decisions to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment. In addition to the standards set forth in subdivision four of this section, decisions by surrogates to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment (including decisions to accept a hospice plan of care that provides for the withdrawal or withholding of life-sustaining treatment) shall be authorized only if the following conditions are satisfied, as applicable:

(a)

(i) Treatment would be an extraordinary burden to the patient and an attending practitioner determines, with the independent concurrence of another physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant, that, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty and in accord with accepted medical standards, (A) the patient has an illness or injury which can be expected to cause death within six months, whether or not treatment is provided; or (B) the patient is permanently unconscious; or

(ii)

The provision of treatment would involve such pain, suffering or other burden that it would reasonably be deemed inhumane or extraordinarily burdensome under the circumstances and the patient has an irreversible or incurable condition, as determined by an attending practitioner with the independent concurrence of another physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant to a reasonable degree of medical certainty and in accord with accepted medical standards.

(b)

In a residential health care facility, a surrogate shall have the authority to refuse life-sustaining treatment under subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (a) of this subdivision only if the ethics review committee, including at least one physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant who is not directly responsible for the patient’s care, or a court of competent jurisdiction, reviews the decision and determines that it meets the standards set forth in this article. This requirement shall not apply to a decision to withhold cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

(c)

In a general hospital, if the attending practitioner objects to a surrogate’s decision, under subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (a) of this subdivision, to withdraw or withhold nutrition and hydration provided by means of medical treatment, the decision shall not be implemented until the ethics review committee, including at least one physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant who is not directly responsible for the patient’s care, or a court of competent jurisdiction, reviews the decision and determines that it meets the standards set forth in this subdivision and subdivision four of this section.

(d)

Providing nutrition and hydration orally, without reliance on medical treatment, is not health care under this article and is not subject to this article.

(e)

Expression of decisions. The surrogate shall express a decision to withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment either orally to an attending practitioner or in writing.

Source: Section 2994-D — Health care decisions for adult patients by surrogates, https://www.­nysenate.­gov/legislation/laws/PBH/2994-D (updated Jun. 19, 2020; accessed Jun. 8, 2024).

Accessed:
Jun. 8, 2024

Last modified:
Jun. 19, 2020

§ 2994-D’s source at nysenate​.gov

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