Responding to the Agent's Decisions
Health care providers must honor the agent's decisions to the same extent as they would honor the patient's decisions, unless they obtain a court order overriding the decision. Providers are protected from liability for honoring in good faith decisions by the agent. Health care decisions by the agent have priority over decisions by any other person except the patient.
Individual Conscience Exception
The Proxy Law does not require individual health care professionals to honor an agent's decision if the decision is contrary to the individual's religious beliefs or sincerely held moral convictions and:
- the individual would not have honored the decision for the same religious or moral reasons if the decision had been made by the patient when competent; and
- the individual promptly informs the agent and health care facility of his or her refusal to honor the agent's decision.
When informed of the health care professional's objections, the health care facility must promptly transfer responsibility for the patient to another health care professional willing to honor the agent's decision. Health care professionals who assert a conscientious objection to the agent's decision must cooperate in transferring the patient.
Institutional Conscience Exception
The Proxy Law does not require private health care facilities to honor the agent's decision if all of the following conditions are met:
- the decision is contrary to a formally adopted policy of the facility that is expressly based on religious beliefs or on sincerely held moral convictions central to the operating principles of the facility;
- the decision would violate facility policy for the same religious or moral reasons if the patient had made the decision when competent;
- the facility would be permitted by law to refuse to honor the decision if the patient had made the decision when competent;
- the facility informed the patient or the agent of its policy prior to or upon admission, if reasonably possible; and
- the patient is transferred promptly to another facility that is reasonably accessible under the circumstances and willing to honor the agent's decision.
If the agent is unable or unwilling to arrange such a transfer and if a transfer is not otherwise arranged, the facility must either seek judicial relief or honor the agent's decision.