Need to Knows

Here you’ll find everything you need to know while making steps in becoming your loved one’s surrogate.

Every state in the country treats this differently.

Each state within the United States has different laws that regard who can make critical decisions for another person and who cannot.

There are tons of resources out there, do your best to utilize them.

Most hospitals have someone designated to advocate for the patient and their family. This individual may be called a patient advocate, patient care coordinator, social worker, chaplain, or pastoral care provider; they are available to assist family members, however, you may need to submit a special request to speak with them.

Changes may arise and that’s okay.

Some patients, although adamant before illness about wanting, or not wanting, certain types of care, once they are critically ill, may change their minds about treatment. This is particularly true for treatments termed “life-sustaining” such as CPR or ventilation.

Making decisions will be tough.

Even when surrogates and proxies feel relatively confident in knowing what their loved one wants, they may still find it difficult to carry out their loved one’s wishes.

There’s a difference between proxies and surrogates.

In some states, such as New York, you may be called a “proxy” and in others, such as Florida, you may be labeled as a “surrogate.” These terms may even differ in definition depending on which state you’re in.

Some decisions might be placed on the back burner.

When surrogates and proxies do not know what to do, they usually will wait or postpone treatment decisions, using that time to gather more information or talk to other family members.

State law will overpower this process.

The laws of the state in which the patient is receiving care or treatment will determine what you, in the end, can and cannot decide along with how you will carry out your responsibilities.

Your experience moving forward will be stressful.

Most surrogates and proxies say that their decision to start or stop a life-sustaining treatment is one of the hardest decisions they have ever had to make.