Health Care Surrogate Designation: Why It’s Important

A surrogate designation is a document that formally appoints one or more persons to make health care decisions for another if the other is temporarily or permanently unable to make his or her own decisions. It usually permits the surrogate to obtain medical records and can be personalized to incorporate provisions of a living will or even combined with a living will.

Health care surrogate designations are important in minimizing confusion and stress that frequently accompany a serious illness or injury.  They ensure that the person you choose will make decisions if you are not able.  A surrogate designation avoids searching for a family member to make emergency decisions and places decision-making clearly in the hands of a named person. Many authorities strongly recommend that all persons prepare a health care surrogate designation.

The Florida health care surrogate statute was amended in October, 2015, to add provisions you may very well desire.  After October, 2015, your surrogate designation can authorize your surrogate to speak with your health care providers and obtain your records immediately.  You need not be incapacitated.

In addition, after October, 2015, your surrogate designation can authorize your surrogate to provide informed consent and sign for you immediately.  If you activate this provision, your health care will not be delayed while providers perform a mental examination to determine your capacity.  If health care providers are uncertain about your mental capacity, they can accept your surrogate’s signature to authorize care and treatment.

Florida law is designed to make surrogate designations easy to prepare and use, and blank forms can be obtained from many medical providers, office supply stores, and on the internet.  Some forms even include living will provisions.  Even a simple form is better than none.  If you wish to personalize your designation, a qualified attorney can easily assist.

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