New Colorado Law Lets Doctors Make Treatment Decisions For Patients
On May 18 Governor Hickenlooper signed into law a bill which allows an attending physician to designate another willing physician to make health care treatment decisions as a
patient’s proxy decision-maker if:
(a) after making reasonable efforts, the attending physician or his or her designee cannot locate any interested persons, or no interested person is willing and able to serve as proxy decision-maker.
In our opinion, this is an awful Orwellian change which potentially lets physicians who do not even know a patient decide for those patients what treatment is appropriate. There is no guidance what constitutes a “reasonable effort” to locate the patient’s friends or family. The law even covers end of life decision making. A proxy decision maker may permit the patient a “natural death.” The new law also gives immunity against civil and criminal actions to physicians acting as proxy decision makers.
Your best protection against this new law is to have a current, updated, health care power of attorney. Make certain that the persons whom you authorize to make decisions for you are ready, willing and able.