You can now authorize your health care surrogate designee to receive your protected health information (PHI) and/or delegate decision making authority even if you are not incapacitated.  This provides your surrogate immediate access to your health care information and allows them to assist you with your health care decisions.

Florida Statute Chapter 765 governs our laws on health care surrogates and living wills.

The new Health Care Surrogate legislation provides several choices:

  • You, as the principal, may authorize a health care surrogate to make medical decisions or obtain health information only upon a determination of incapacity, or;
  • You, as the principal, may authorize a health care surrogate to access health care information regardless of capacity, and only authorize the surrogate to make medical decisions upon a determination of incapacity; or
  • You, as the principal may authorize the surrogate to access medical information and make health care decisions immediately without an evaluation of capacity.

Previously you, as the patient, had to be determined incapacitated by two doctors before your surrogate could access any health information or help you make your medical decisions.

Please note the Advance Directives provided to you to sign upon admission to the hospital do not provide this authorization (yet). Please contact our office to update your Health Care Surrogate Designation.

Keeping track of your medical records, test results, etc.… is your responsibility (NOT your doctors).  When you are not feeling well it is often difficult to remember to keep all of your information organized and to collect your medical documentation.  With the new Health Care Surrogate Designation your surrogate can now assist you with these task as well as make the telephone call to obtain necessary information and updates, coordinate the information between your health care providers, and access your protected health care information.

***For those of you with minor children the new Florida legislation provides parents and/or legal guardians the authority to designate a person in advance of their absence to consent to essential as well as non-emergency treatment of the minor.

By Linda R. Chamberlain, Board Certified Elder Law Attorney