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Patient Self-Determination Act

Overview

The Patient Self Determination Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 1395cc, requires that at the time of admission to a hospital, a nursing facility, or upon enrollment in a home health agency, the healthcare provider must give the patient information about their rights under state law to execute advance directives.

Additionally, each health maintenance organization (HMO) must give patients the same information upon a subscriber’s enrollment into the HMO. For patients without advance directives, the law continues to be problematic as to who may exercise a patient’s wishes and what standard of evidence is necessary, as was evidence with the much publicized case of Terri Schiavo in which Ms. Schiavo’s husband and parents disagreed as to the withdrawal of treatment and she had no advance medical directive.

Excerpt from Susan O. Scheutzow, Patient Care, in FUNDAMENTALS OF HEALTH LAW 59, 62 (American Health Lawyers Association 5th ed., 2011).