When someone becomes incapacitated but there is no designated surrogate to handle the person’s medical affairs, a court may appoint a health care proxy to take over that individual’s health decisions – either temporarily or definitely.
In this article, you will discover the importance of a health care proxy in Florida.
Florida Health Care Proxy – The Basics
In Florida, a health care proxy is the solution for situations in which an incapacitated person did not create a health care surrogate designation in time or the person designated as a surrogate is either unable or unwilling to fulfill the role.
Ideally, the best approach would be to have a designated health care surrogate, which is a person whom you grant legal authority to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event of incapacitation or severe medical condition.
Florida Health Care Proxy – As Provided by Law
Florida Statutes §765.401 specify a preset order of priority to be followed in the appointment of a health care proxy within state jurisdiction. The order applies if the incapacitated person has no health care surrogate and “no individual in a prior class is reasonably available, willing, or competent to act.”
The same statute adds that “the judicially appointed guardian of the patient or the guardian advocate of the person having a developmental disability (…), who has been authorized to consent to medical treatment, if such guardian has previously been appointed.”
Nonetheless, the statute outlines that “this paragraph shall not be construed to require such appointment before a treatment decision can be made under this subsection:
- The patient’s spouse
- An adult child of the patient, or
- If the patient has more than one adult child, a majority of the adult children who are reasonably available for consultation
- A parent of the patient
- The adult sibling of the patient, or
- If the patient has more than one sibling, a majority of the adult siblings who are reasonably available for consultation
- An adult relative of the patient who has exhibited special care and concern for the patient and who has maintained regular contact with the patient and who is familiar with the patient’s activities, health, and religious or moral beliefs; or
- A close friend of the patient”
What is the Level of Authority Granted by a Health Care Proxy in Florida?
Unless otherwise stated in the advance directive itself, a health care proxy has the power to handle virtually all the principal’s health care decisions, including:
- Providing informed consent, refusal of consent, or withdrawal of consent to any health care treatments (including life-prolonging medical procedures, mental health treatments, etc.)
- Deciding whether to apply for benefits to defray expenses associated with health care – either public, private, government-related, or veterans’ benefits
- Accessing privileged medical information concerning the principal that is reasonably necessary for decisions involving health care and medical benefits
- Decision-making regarding organ, tissue, and body donation (under Florida law)
It is crucial noting that a proxy can apply for government health care benefits on the incapacitated individual’s behalf. Nonetheless, no health care proxy has the power to access the principal’s bank accounts nor handle financial or legal decisions.
Are You in a Situation Involving Health Care Proxy? – Immediately Contact an Expert Attorney
Undoubtedly, cases involving a health care proxy may be complex to deal with. Waste no time – call Attorney Romy B. Jurado today at (305) 921-0976 or email [email protected] for strategic legal guidance.