On August 13, 2015, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a GNYHA-supported amendment to the Public Health Law authorizing an attending physician to make decisions about hospice care for an adult without a surrogate who is deemed incapacitated and eligible for hospice care. Effective immediately, the hospice amendment addresses a gap in the Family Health Care Decisions Act for incapacitated patients and residents of residential facilities.
The law authorizes an attending physician to make decisions about hospice care and execute appropriate documents for such decisions, including a hospice election form, for an adult without a surrogate who is deemed incapacitated and eligible for hospice care. The amendment includes safeguards to protect the wishes and best interests of patients who may benefit from hospice care, including the requirements for the attending physician to consult with the staff directly responsible for the patient’s care and for a second physician to provide a concurring opinion on the appropriateness of hospice.
In a residential health care facility, the medical director or his/her designee must independently determine that he/she concurs with the attending physician’s recommendation, unless the facility’s medical director is the patient’s attending physician. In that case, a different physician designated by the residential health care facility must make this independent determination. Additionally, in a general hospital, residential health facility, or hospice, an ethics committee or judicial review of all decisions to elect hospice care is required.