New York Health Care Proxy Law and the New York’s Family Health Care Decision Making Act (FHCDA)

?For the past six months, Lydia, who is paralyzed from a car accident and can only communicate through nodding her head, has been receiving life sustaining support from the staff at Little Falls Hospital. It is uncertain if Lydia is able to understand any information about her current situation and is able to make any decisions for herself. Lydia prepared an advance directive before the accident, but the advance directive cannot be located. There are two laws that can be taken into account for this situation, the New York Health Care Proxy Law and the New York’s Family Health Care Decision Making Act (FHCDA).

Under the New York Health Care Proxy Law, Lydia’s husband, Mr. Bevins, who is her legal guardian, which also makes him the surrogate decision maker under the New York Health Care Proxy Law, has the legal right to make the decisions on her health care in her behalf. Being respectful of his wife’s wishes, Mr. Bevins is asking that the life sustaining support be withdrawn. However, Lydia’s mom, Eileen Redfield, believes that her daughter has a chance to recover and does not support Mr.

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Bevins’ decision. New York’s Family Health Care Decision Making Act (FHCDA) “establishes the authority of a patient’s family member or close friend to make health care decisions for the patient in cases where the patient lacks decisional capacity and did not leave prior instructions or appoint a health care agent. This “surrogate” decision maker would also be empowered to direct the withdrawal or withholding of life-sustaining treatment when standards set forth in the statute are satisfied. (http://www. nysba. org/Content/NavigationMenu/PublicResources/FamilyHealthCareDecisionsActInformationCenter/FHCDARC. htm) With Mr. Bevins being the appointed guardian, it gives him the right to make the decisions on his wife’s behalf. Since there is uncertainty as to whether Lydia can make her own decisions, the doctors would have to confirm that Lydia is no longer capable of making decisions for herself before this right can be enacted.

It is critical that the physician determines whether Lydia is incapacitated and that her treatment is ineffectual before any life support decisions can be made. If it is found that Lydia is capable of making her own decision, she would need to give informed consent for any procedures or withdrawals of treatment. When the physician determines that Lydia is incapacitated and that treatment is ineffectual, there are three options to consider. The first option would be to continue with the current active treatment

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