THE LINK: Louisiana Newsletter
Volume 33, Number 5, September / October 2014
New State Law: Informed Consent Hierarchy
Healthcare professionals across the state should be aware of recently passed legislation involving Louisiana’s informed consent statue. Senate bill 302 by Senator Fred Mills (R-Parks) affects the critical issue of patients who are unable to make healthcare decisions on their own, and addresses a scenario whereby the healthcare provider cannot locate a person in the standard line of consent. The measure, signed into law by Governor Jindal, adds two more classes of individuals who may consent on behalf of the patient who lacks the capacity to consent for himself.
“[The bill] addresses a growing problem … handling individuals who cannot make their own medical decisions, for whom no individuals can be found to make the decisions on their behalf.”
First, the legislation adds an “adult friend,” which is defined as “an adult who has exhibited special care and concern for the patient, who is generally familiar with the patient’s healthcare views and desires, and who is willing and able to become involved in the patient’s healthcare decisions and to act in the patient’s best interest.” secondly, the legislation adds the patient’s attending physician when the following criteria are met:
- The attending physician shall document in the patient’s chart the facts that establish what medical decisions need to be made and why those decisions are needed without undue delay, as well as the steps taken to obtain consent from the patient or another person authorized by law to give consent.
- The attending physician shall obtain confirmation from another physician, preferably the patient’s primary care physician if he or she is not the attending physician, of the patient’s condition and the medical necessity for such action as is appropriate and consistent with the patient’s condition and which cannot be omitted without adversely affecting the patient’s condition or the quality of medical care rendered.
- The confirming physician shall personally examine the patient and document his or her assessment, findings, and recommendations in the patient’s chart prior to the proposed surgical or medical treatment or procedures being performed.
The LSMS supported this bill during the recently completed legislative session. It addresses a growing problem many Louisiana hospitals experience - handling individuals who cannot make their own medical decisions, for whom no individuals can be found to make the decisions on their behalf.