2020 Georgia Code
Title 31 - Health
Chapter 32 - Advance Directives for Health Care
§ 31-32-10. Immunity From Liability or Disciplinary Action

Universal Citation: GA Code § 31-32-10 (2020)
  1. Each health care provider, health care facility, and any other person who acts in good faith reliance on any direction or decision by the health care agent shall be protected and released to the same extent as though such person had interacted directly with the declarant as a fully competent person. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the following specific provisions shall also govern, protect, and validate the acts of the health care agent and each such health care provider, health care facility, and any other person acting in good faith reliance on such direction or decision:
    1. No such health care provider, health care facility, or person shall be subject to civil or criminal liability or discipline for unprofessional conduct solely for complying with any direction or decision by the health care agent, even if death or injury to the declarant ensues;
    2. No such health care provider, health care facility, or person shall be subject to civil or criminal liability or discipline for unprofessional conduct solely for failure to comply with any direction or decision by the health care agent, as long as such health care provider, health care facility, or person promptly informs the health care agent of such health care provider's, health care facility's, or person's refusal or failure to comply with such direction or decision by the health care agent. The health care agent shall then be responsible for arranging the declarant's transfer to another health care provider. A health care provider who is unwilling to comply with the health care agent's decision shall continue to provide reasonably necessary consultation and care in connection with the pending transfer;
    3. If the actions of a health care provider, health care facility, or person who fails to comply with any direction or decision by the health care agent are substantially in accord with reasonable medical standards at the time of reference and the provider cooperates in the transfer of the declarant pursuant to paragraph (2) of Code Section 31-32-8, the health care provider, health care facility, or person shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability or discipline for unprofessional conduct for failure to comply with the advance directive for health care;
    4. No health care agent who, in good faith, acts with due care for the benefit of the declarant and in accordance with the terms of an advance directive for health care, or who fails to act, shall be subject to civil or criminal liability for such action or inaction; and
    5. If the authority granted by an advance directive for health care is revoked under Code Section 31-32-6, a person shall not be subject to criminal prosecution or civil liability for acting in good faith reliance upon such advance directive for health care unless such person had actual knowledge of the revocation.
  2. No person shall be civilly liable for failing or refusing in good faith to effectuate the declarant's directions regarding the withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures or the withholding or withdrawal of the provision of nourishment or hydration.
  3. No physician or any person acting under a physician's direction and no health care facility or any agent or employee thereof who, acting in good faith in accordance with the requirements of this chapter, causes the withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures or the withholding or withdrawal of the provision of nourishment or hydration from a declarant or who otherwise participates in good faith therein shall be subject to any civil or criminal liability or guilty of unprofessional conduct therefor.
  4. No person who witnesses an advance directive for health care in good faith and in accordance with subsection (c) of Code Section 31-32-5 shall be civilly or criminally liable or guilty of unprofessional conduct for such action.
  5. Any person who participates in the withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures or the withholding or withdrawal of the provision of nourishment or hydration pursuant to an advance directive for health care and who has actual knowledge that such advance directive for health care has been properly revoked shall not have any civil or criminal immunity otherwise granted under this chapter for such conduct.

(Code 1981, §31-32-10, enacted by Ga. L. 2007, p. 133, § 2/HB 24.)

Law reviews.

- For note, "An Advance Directive: The Elective, Effective Way to be Protective of Your Rights," see 68 Mercer L. Rev. 521 (2017).

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

Genuine issues of material fact as to whether medical defendants made a good faith effort.

- Trial court properly denied summary judgment to the medical defendants on the immunity question under the Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care Act, O.C.G.A. § 31-32-1 et seq., specifically O.C.G.A. § 31-32-10(a)(2), because genuine issues of material fact existed regarding whether the defendants made a good faith effort to rely on the directions and decisions of the patient's health care agent under the Advance Directive in carrying out the March 7 intubation. Doctors Hosp. of Augusta, LLC v. Alicea, 332 Ga. App. 529, 774 S.E.2d 114 (2015), aff'd, 299 Ga. 315, 788 S.E.2d 392 (2016).

No immunity for health care provider.

- When the health care provider makes the patient's health care decisions based on the provider's own judgment, without relying in good faith on what the patient's designated health care agent directed, the provider must defend those actions without the immunity given in O.C.G.A. § 31-32-10(a). Doctors Hospital of Augusta, LLC v. Alicea, 299 Ga. 315, 788 S.E.2d 392 (2016).

After the designated health care agent sued a hospital and a doctor for intubating and putting the agent's grandmother on a mechanical ventilator, contrary to the grandmother's advance directive for health care, the trial court properly rejected the doctor's immunity argument under the Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care Act, O.C.G.A. § 31-32-1 et seq., and properly denied summary judgment on that ground because there was a clear factual dispute about whether the doctor relied at all on any directive from the agent in acting to order the intubation; and there was apparently undisputed evidence that the doctor did not tell the agent that the doctor was unwilling to comply with the agent's decision, or promptly inform the agent of the doctor's decision. Doctors Hospital of Augusta, LLC v. Alicea, 299 Ga. 315, 788 S.E.2d 392 (2016).

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