The States as Laboratories: Regulation of Decisions for Incapacitated Patients

 

Erin S. DeMartino and Joshua A. Rolnick, The Journal of Clinical Ethics 30, no. 2 (Summer 2019): 89-95.

 

In the United States, patients who lose the ability to make their own medical decisions are subject to the laws of their respective states. Laws governing advance directives and physician orders for life-sustaining therapies (POLST), and establishing a surrogate in the absence of an advance directive, vary substantially by jurisdiction. This article traces those laws from their origins, describes current practices and challenges with their application to patient care, and considers future avenues for ethics research and legislative reform.

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