Every state has laws that govern who can make medical decisions for a patient in the event he becomes unable to make medical decisions for himself. The following is the legal order of who a patient’s healthcare team will work with to discuss your healthcare needs:
- Someone whom the patient has previously designated in writing as the medical decision maker (either by declaration before 2 witnesses or through a written healthcare power of attorney).
- A judicially appointed curator or tutor
- The patient's spouse, not judicially separated
- Adult children of the patient
- The parents of the patient
- The patient's sibling
- The patient's other relatives
Source: Koppel, A., JD, Sullivan, S., JD. Legal Considerations in End of Life Decision-Making in Louisiana. The Ochsner Journal, v.11(4); Winter, 2011.