Oregon Weakens Protection for Unrepresented Patients

A small handful of states, including Oregon, authorize an attending physician to make healthcare decisions on behalf of an incapacitated patient when there is no available surrogate. I have criticized this approach as insufficiently protective of the patient's interests. This month, the Oregon Legislature amended this provision to provide that if no other surrogate is available, then "life-sustaining procedures may be withheld or withdrawn upon the direction and under the supervision of the attending physician OR attending health care provider." So, now the decision is not only left to a single clinician but also that clinician does not even need to be a physician.

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