2016 New Hampshire Revised Statutes
Title X - PUBLIC HEALTH
Chapter 137-J - WRITTEN DIRECTIVES FOR MEDICAL DECISION MAKING FOR ADULTS WITHOUT CAPACITY TO MAKE HEALTH CARE DECISIONS
Section 137-J:10 - Withholding or Withdrawal of Life-Sustaining Treatment.
I. In the event a health care decision to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment, including medically administered nutrition and hydration, is to be made by an agent or surrogate, and the principal has not executed the "living will'' of the advance directive, the following additional conditions shall apply:
(a) The principal's attending physician or APRN shall certify in writing that the principal lacks the capacity to make health care decisions.
(b) Two physicians or a physician and an APRN shall certify in writing that the principal is near death or is permanently unconscious.
(c) Notwithstanding the capacity of an agent or surrogate to act, the agent or surrogate shall make a good faith effort to explore all avenues reasonably available to discern the desires of the principal including, but not limited to, the principal's advance directive, the principal's written or spoken expressions of wishes, and the principal's known religious or moral beliefs.
II. Notwithstanding paragraph I, medically administered nutrition and hydration and life-sustaining treatment shall not be withdrawn or withheld under an advance directive unless:
(a) There is a clear expression of such intent in the directive;
(b) The principal objects pursuant to RSA 137-J:5, IV; or
(c) Such treatment would have the unintended consequence of hastening death or causing irreparable harm as certified by an attending physician and a physician knowledgeable about the patient's condition.
III. The withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment pursuant to the provisions of this chapter shall at no time be construed as a suicide or murder for any legal purpose. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to constitute, condone, authorize, or approve suicide, assisted suicide, mercy killing, or euthanasia, or permit any affirmative or deliberate act or omission to end one's own life or to end the life of another other than either to permit the natural process of dying of a patient near death or the removal of life-sustaining treatment from a patient in a permanently unconscious condition as provided in this chapter. The withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, however, shall not relieve any individual of responsibility for any criminal acts that may have caused the principal's condition.
IV. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to condone, authorize, or approve:
(a) The consent to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment from a pregnant principal, unless, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, as certified on the principal's medical record by the attending physician or APRN and an obstetrician who has examined the principal, such treatment or procedures will not maintain the principal in such a way as to permit the continuing development and live birth of the fetus or will be physically harmful to the principal or prolong severe pain which cannot be alleviated by medication.
(b) The withholding or withdrawing of medically administered nutrition and hydration or life-sustaining treatment from a mentally incompetent or developmentally disabled person, unless such person has a validly executed advance directive or such action is authorized by an existing guardianship or other court order, or, in the absence of such directive, authorization, or order, such action is taken in accordance with the standard protocol of a health care facility licensed under RSA 151 as applicable to its general patient population.
V. Nothing in this chapter shall impair or supersede any other legal right or responsibility which any person may have to effect life-sustaining treatment in any lawful manner; provided, that this paragraph shall not be construed to authorize any violation of RSA 137-J:7, II or III.
VI. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to revoke or adversely affect the privileges or immunities of health care providers or residential care providers and others to provide treatment to persons in need thereof in an emergency, as provided for under New Hampshire law.
VII. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to create a presumption that in the absence of an advance directive, a person wants life-sustaining treatment to be either taken or withdrawn. This chapter shall also not be construed to supplant any existing rights and responsibilities under the law of this state governing the conduct of physicians or APRNs in consultation with patients or their families or legal guardians in the absence of an advance directive.
Source. 2006, 302:2. 2009, 54:4. 2012, 251:1. 2014, 239:9, eff. Jan. 1, 2015.
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