As of October 1, 2015 an Advance Directive for Healthcare can include language that would make it possible for a health care surrogate to make decisions immediately. Previously, before a health care surrogate could act, a physician had to determine that the patient could not make medical decisions. Health Care Surrogates were often faced with problems when the patient’s cognition was unstable. If a patient’s ability vacillated, the surrogate’s authority would be unclear. Sometimes multiple determinations of incapacity would be required, thwarting a surrogate’s ability to ensure timely care. The change to Florida Statute Section 765.202 allows the surrogate to make decisions and access medical records, even when the patient is competent. While the patient is competent, the decisions of the patient control over the conflicting decisions of the surrogate.
The new law at Section 765.2035 also provides that parents and guardians have the ability to name a health care surrogate for a minor. This law gives many parents peace of mind when traveling. Previously it was unclear if a parent could designate someone else to make health care decisions for their children.
We encourage everyone to consider this change, because the flexibility of this change is only available if the Advance Directive document provides for immediate authority.