Health Care Proxies

If a patient has not previously designated a Health Care Surrogate or Health Care Power of Attorney, or if the Health Care Surrogate or Power of Attorney is no longer available, then Florida law states who can make the medical and health care decisions and who has priority to make these decisions. That person is called a Health Care Proxy in the state of Florida.

The following people are the State of Florida named the Health Care Proxies and make medical and/or health care decisions for the patient, in the following order:

A judicially appointed Guardian or Guardian Advocate of the patient;

The patient’s spouse;

An adult child of the patient, or if the patient has more than one child, a majority of the patient’s adult children who are available for consultation, may act;

A parent of the patient;

An adult sibling of the patient, of if the patient has more than one sibling, a majority of the patient’s adult siblings who are available for consultation may act;

An adult relative of the patient, who has given special care and concern for the patient and who has regular contact with the patient, and who is familiar with the activities, health, and religious or moral beliefs of the patient;

A close friend of the patient.

If there is no one from the above list who can act or is willing to act as health care proxy, then a clinical social worker who is licensed pursuant to F.S. 491 or who is a graduate of a court-approved guardianship program, may act as Health Care Proxy. The medical provider’s bioethics committee will select the licensed clinical social worker to be the Health Care Proxy. The Health Care Proxy can not be an employee of the medical provider. If the medical provider does not have a bioethics committee, then it may use the bioethics committee of another medical provider. Upon request, the medical provider must make available a second physician, who is not involved in the patient’s care, to assist the Health Care Proxy.

As Florida law will decide who has the right to make your medical and health care decisions if you do not have a Health Care Surrogate or Health Care Power of Attorney, it is important to have these documents prepared beforehand. At Osterhout & McKinney, we prepare Designations of Health Care Surrogate and other estate planning documents, so that your wishes may be known. Call us at (239) 939-4888.

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