SoundEthics in Health Care - National Center for Ethics in Health Care
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SoundEthics in Health Care

Identifying the Patient’s Authorized Surrogate: Close Friends as Surrogate Decision-Makers (6:12)

The surrogate decision-maker is the person authorized to make health care decisions on behalf of a patient who no longer has decision-making capacity. This podcast reviews the hierarchy of surrogates in VA, discusses the documentation requirements that must be followed in order to establish a close friend as the surrogate, and examines the implications for same-sex married and unmarried couples.

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Text-only Transcript 

 Discussion Points:

  • List the priority of VA authorized surrogates.
  • Describe how a patient names a Health Care Agent.
  • Describe the two ways in which a close friend may be named as the patient’s surrogate decision maker.
  • Describe the documentation required for naming a close friend as the patient’s surrogate in the absence of an advance directive.


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