Increasingly, clinicians confront patients who are incapacitated and have no available surrogate. Such unrepresented patients cannot consent to proposed health care, and nobody else is available who is authorized to consent on their behalf. Despite the challenge of decision making for unrepresented patients, few laws or professional organization policy statements offer a solution. This article helps fill this void by describing the top 5 things clinicians should know when they are caring for unrepresented patients: (1) realize that these patients are highly vulnerable; (2) confirm that the patient is incapacitated; (3) confirm that the patient is unrepresented; (4) appreciate variability among state law decision-making processes for unrepresented patients; (5) use guardianship only as a last resort.
Pope, T. M. (2019). Five things clinicians should know when caring for unrepresented patients. AMA Journal of Ethics, 21(7), 582–586. https://doi.org/10.1001/amajethics.2019.582
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