Orthopaedic Ethics 8: Surrogate Decision Making

When patients lose their decision-making capacity, surrogates are utilized to make health-care decisions on their behalf. The patient may designate a health-care proxy through a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA). Otherwise, health-care decisions may be made by surrogates through a hierarchy of levels and limitations governed by legal statutes primarily at the state level. This ethics module on Surrogate Decision-Making is designed to stimulate discussion via a changing scenario and familiarize the surgeon with guidelines, resources, and legalities to consider when faced with such clinical situations.

Module content created by
J oan Krajca-Radcliffe, MD
 of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Learning objectives for this Activity:

Be familiar with the established levels of medical-legal surrogacy and the hierarchy within each level

Be aware of your state's specific statutes regarding surrogate decision making, hierarchy, and limitations

Be able to identify and utilize available resources to help in decision making and resolution of conflicts

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