2020 Georgia Code
Title 31 - Health
Chapter 32 - Advance Directives for Health Care
§ 31-32-8. Duties and Responsibilities of Health Care Providers
Each health care provider and each other person with whom a health care agent interacts under an advance directive for health care shall be subject to the following duties and responsibilities:
- It is the responsibility of the health care agent or declarant to notify the health care provider of the existence of the advance directive for health care and any amendment or revocation thereof. A health care provider furnished with a copy of an advance directive for health care shall make such copy a part of the declarant's medical records and shall enter in the records any change in or termination of the advance directive for health care by the declarant that becomes known to the health care provider. A health care provider shall grant a health care agent adequate access to a declarant when a declarant is admitted to any health care facility. Whenever a health care provider believes a declarant is unable to understand the general nature of the health care procedure which the provider deems necessary, the health care provider shall consult with any available health care agent known to the health care provider who then has power to act for the declarant under an advance directive for health care;
- A health care decision made by a health care agent in accordance with the terms of an advance directive for health care shall be complied with by every health care provider to whom the decision is communicated, subject to the health care provider's right to administer treatment for the declarant's comfort or alleviation of pain; provided, however, that if the health care provider is unwilling to comply with the health care agent's decision, the health care provider shall promptly inform the health care agent who shall then be responsible for arranging for 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 provide reasonably necessary consultation and care in connection with the pending transfer;
- At the declarant's expense and subject to reasonable rules of the health care provider to prevent disruption of the declarant's health care, each health care provider shall give a health care agent authorized to receive such information under an advance directive for health care the same right the declarant has to examine and copy any part or all of the declarant's medical records that the health care agent deems relevant to the exercise of the health care agent's powers, whether the records relate to mental health or any other medical condition and whether they are in the possession of or maintained by any physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, health care facility, or other health care provider, notwithstanding the provisions of any statute or rule of law to the contrary; and
- If and to the extent an advance directive for health care empowers the health care agent to direct that an autopsy of the declarant's body be made; to make an anatomical gift of any part or all of the declarant's body pursuant to Article 6 of Chapter 5 of Title 44, the "Georgia Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act"; or to direct the final disposition of the declarant's body, including funeral arrangements, burial, or cremation, the decisions of the health care agent on such matters shall be deemed the act of the declarant or of the person who has priority under law to make the necessary decisions, and each person to whom a direction by the health care agent in accordance with the terms of the agency is communicated shall comply with such direction to the extent it is in accord with reasonable medical standards or other relevant standards at the time of reference.
(Code 1981, §31-32-8, enacted by Ga. L. 2007, p. 133, § 2/HB 24; Ga. L. 2008, p. 503, § 4/SB 405.)Law reviews.
- For note, "An Advance Directive: The Elective, Effective Way to be Protective of Your Rights," see 68 Mercer L. Rev. 521 (2017).
- In light of the similarity of the statutory provisions, decisions under former Code Section 31-36-7, which was subsequently repealed but was succeeded by provisions in this Code section, are included in the annotations for this Code section.Notice of limitation.
- Since the health care agents did not notify defendant physician of a power of attorney and its proscription against surgery, and the document was not in the patient's hospital chart, the physician could not be held liable for battery for performing an operation. Roberts v. Jones, 222 Ga. App. 548, 475 S.E.2d 193 (1996) (decided under former Code Section31-36-7).Right to administer treatment for pain.
- Even though a patient executed a power of attorney containing a limitation on "painful" surgery, the patient's physician had the duty to perform an operation to alleviate the patient's undoubted pain and suffering. Roberts v. Jones, 222 Ga. App. 548, 475 S.E.2d 193 (1996) (decided under former Code Section31-36-7).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).Under advanced directive, will of patient or patient's agent controls.
- Under the Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care Act, O.C.G.A. § 31-32-1 et seq., it is the will of the patient or the patient's designated health care agent, rather than the will of the health care provider, that controls; and O.C.G.A. § 31-32-8(1) enforces that purpose by declaring that a health care provider who believes a declarant is unable to understand the general nature of the health care procedure which the provider deems necessary shall consult with any available health care agent known to the health care provider who then has power to act for the declarant under an advance directive for health care. Doctors Hospital of Augusta, LLC v. Alicea, 299 Ga. 315, 788 S.E.2d 392 (2016).No immunity for health care provider.
- 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).