For Immediate Release
Contact: Mark Genovese, 518.782.9400, ext. 353
ALBANY, March 16, 2010 – The New York State Nurses Association applauds Governor David Paterson’s signing the Family Healthcare Decision Act into law. The law will allow health care decisions to be made for patients who lack both capacity and an appointed proxy.
“An inestimable number of New Yorkers have not executed a proxy form,” said Tina Gerardi, MS, RN, CAE, chief executive officer of the Nurses Association, during a bill signing ceremony this afternoon at Albany Memorial Hospital.
“The Nurses Association believes they should have no less protection by the law no less compassion by the courts, and no less care from health care providers than those who already have appointed a proxy. State law must protect the rights of all patients, ensuring they can live with dignity and receive care consistent with their own wishes and beliefs.”
This law includes a system of guidelines that are designed to reach a decision that the patient would have wanted. It takes into the highest account the religious, ethical, and philosophical attitudes of the patient towards treatment – including life-sustaining procedures.
The law also recognizes the makeup of today’s families, including "non-traditional" families. For some patients, there is no family member or caring friend able to make such decisions. In such cases, the law allows decisions to be made by a committee with input from patient care providers.
“We are most pleased that the proposal law clearly recognizes the role of registered nurses in the care team,” Gerardi said, “and stipulates that any recommendations from the nurses who care for a patient must be included in the surrogate decision making process.”
The Nurses Association recommends that the law be amended in the near future to expand the definition of “attending physician” to include the patient’s personal health care provider. This is because there are many instances where an “attending” may actually be a nurse practitioner, midwife, or other authorized health care professional.
“Enactment of a proposal to this law is a humane way to establish a standard and a process for making decisions for patients without capacity,” Gerardi added. “This law extends protections to patients and allows nurses to deliver care in a manner consistent with the patient’s wishes and beliefs. The nursing community cannot ask for more than that. We applaud the Governor for signing this long-awaited bill into law.”
The New York State Nurses Association is the voice for nursing in the Empire State. With more than 37,000 members, it is the state's largest union and professional association for registered nurses. It supports nurses and nursing practice through education, research, legislative advocacy, and collective bargaining.