(a) Purpose. -- The purpose of this article is to ensure that a patient's right to self-determination in health care decisions be communicated and protected; and to set forth a process for private health care decision making for incapacitated adults, including the use of advance directives, which reduces the need for judicial involvement and defines the circumstances under which immunity shall be available for health care providers and surrogate decision makers who make health care decisions.
The intent of the Legislature is to establish an effective method for private health care decision making for incapacitated adults, and to provide that the courts should not be the usual venue for making decisions. It is not the intent of the Legislature to legalize, condone, authorize or approve mercy killing or assisted suicide.
(b) Findings. -- The Legislature hereby finds that:
(1) Common law tradition and the medical profession in general have traditionally recognized the right of a capable adult to accept or reject medical or surgical intervention affecting one's own medical condition;
(2) The application of recent advances in medical science and technology increasingly involves patients who are unconscious or otherwise unable to accept or reject medical or surgical treatment affecting their medical conditions;
(3) Such advances have also made it possible to prolong the dying process artificially through the use of intervening treatments or procedures which, in some cases, offer no hope of medical benefit;
(4) Capable adults should be encouraged to issue advance directives designating their health care representatives so that in the event any such adult becomes unconscious or otherwise incapable of making health care decisions, decisions may be made by others who are aware of such person's own wishes and values; and
(5) The right to make medical treatment decisions extends to a person who is incapacitated at the moment of decision. An incapacitated person who has not made his or her wishes known in advance through an applicable living will, medical power of attorney or through some other means has the right to have health care decisions made on his or her behalf by a person who will act in accordance with the incapacitated person's expressed values and wishes, or, if those values and wishes are unknown, in the incapacitated person's best interests.