Treatment Decisions for Incapacitated Adults – Question #1

Test your knowledge about treatment decisions. This is the first of a 4-question series. The same parameters apply to each of the questions.

Parameters:  Dealing with adult patients (vs. minors) who lack capacity to consent to medical treatment. In other than an emergency situation. California law (Constitution and statutes) applies.

Topic: Surrogate Decision Makers

Question: Which of the following, if in existence, have legal authority to consent to treatment of the patient in a hospital?

[Circle the correct number(s); the answers and discussion are found lower in this post ]
  1. A health care surrogate with an oral or written appointment from the patient for the duration of a stay or illness (maximum of 60 days).
  2. An agent appointed in an Advance Health Care Directive or Power of Attorney for Health Care.
  3. A conservator of the person (including the Public Guardian) authorized to make health care decisions.
  4. A court appointed surrogate designated to make health care decisions.
  5. The patient’s treating physician, as long as licensed to practice medicine in California.
  6. The closest available relative.
  7. A multi-disciplinary committee.




The answer and discussion

  • Nos. 1 through 4 are correct. You should have circled them all.
  • Further, Nos. 1 through 4 are stated in priority order (e.g., if both No.1 and No. 2 exist, No. 1 has the authority).
  • No. 5 is not correct.
  • No. 6 is not correct. Nothing in the California Constitution or statutes gives authority to closest available relatives. We’ll discuss this more in a future post.
  • No. 7 only applies in a skilled nursing facility (nursing home); does not apply in a hospital.

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