Proposed Bill Seeks To Keep More Medical Decisions Out Of The Courts

Dec 30, 2013

New Hampshire could soon have a new system for determining who gets to make medical decisions on behalf of patients who lack the ability to do it themselves.

A bi-partisan group of lawmakers, including Democratic Senator Peggy Gilmour, are pushing a bill that creates what’s called a surrogate decision-maker system.

“I think people assume that, for instance, I could speak for my husband,” says Gilmour. “Or, one of my children could speak for me. But that’s just not the case.”

New Hampshire is one of just a few states that doesn’t have a hierarchy written into law that can help determine who gets to make health care choices for loved ones, including end-of-life decisions for people who haven’t already named someone through a living will.

Gilmour says the goal is to make health care options and end-of-life decisions easier on everybody, and keep more of these matters out of the court system.

Under the proposed bill, a patient’s spouse would have first say, followed by an adult child.