(1) A surrogate may make a health care decision for an individual if the individual has been determined to be incapable by the primary health care provider and no agent or guardian has been appointed for the individual. A determination that an individual is incapable of making a health care decision shall not be construed as a finding that the individual is incapable for any other purpose.

Terms Used In Nebraska Statutes 30-604

  • Action: shall include any proceeding in any court of this state. See Nebraska Statutes 49-801
  • Evidence: Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other.
  • Guardian: A person legally empowered and charged with the duty of taking care of and managing the property of another person who because of age, intellect, or health, is incapable of managing his (her) own affairs.
  • Person: shall include bodies politic and corporate, societies, communities, the public generally, individuals, partnerships, limited liability companies, joint-stock companies, and associations. See Nebraska Statutes 49-801
  • Person shall: include bodies politic and corporate, societies, communities, the public generally, individuals, partnerships, limited liability companies, joint-stock companies, and associations. See Nebraska Statutes 49-801
  • Power of attorney: A written instrument which authorizes one person to act as another's agent or attorney. The power of attorney may be for a definite, specific act, or it may be general in nature. The terms of the written power of attorney may specify when it will expire. If not, the power of attorney usually expires when the person granting it dies. Source: OCC
  • Process: shall mean a summons, subpoena, or notice to appear issued out of a court in the course of judicial proceedings. See Nebraska Statutes 49-801

(2)(a) An individual may designate a natural person to act as surrogate for the individual by personally informing the primary health care provider.

(b) If an individual has not designated a surrogate and there is no power of attorney for health care or court-appointed guardian for the individual, any member of the following classes of natural persons, in the following order of priority, may act as surrogate for the individual if such person is reasonably available at the time the health care decision is to be made on behalf of the individual and if such person has not been disqualified under the Health Care Surrogacy Act:

(i) The individual’s spouse unless legally separated from the individual or unless proceedings are pending for divorce, annulment, or legal separation between the individual and his or her spouse;

(ii) A child of the individual who is an adult or an emancipated minor;

(iii) A parent of the individual; or

(iv) A brother or sister of the individual who is an adult or an emancipated minor.

(c) A person in a class with greater priority to serve as a surrogate may decline to serve as surrogate by informing the primary health care provider of that fact. Such fact shall be noted in the individual’s medical record.

(d) The primary health care provider may use discretion to disqualify a person who would otherwise be eligible to act as a surrogate based on the priority listed in subdivision (b) of this subsection if the provider has documented or otherwise clear and convincing evidence of an abusive relationship or documented or otherwise clear and convincing evidence of another basis for finding that the potential surrogate is not acting on behalf of or in the best interests of the individual. Any evidence so used to disqualify a person from acting as a surrogate shall be documented in full in the individual’s medical record.

(3) A person who has exhibited special care and concern for the individual, who is familiar with the individual’s personal values, and who is reasonably available to act as a surrogate is eligible to act as a surrogate under subsection (2) of this section.

(4) A surrogate shall communicate his or her assumption of authority as promptly as possible to the members of the individual’s family specified in subsection (2) of this section who can be readily contacted.

(5)(a) If more than one member of a class having priority has authority to act as an individual’s surrogate, such persons may act as the individual’s surrogate and any of such persons may be identified as one of the individual’s surrogates by the primary health care provider within the individual’s medical record, so long as such persons are in agreement about the health care decision to be made on behalf of the individual and attest to such agreement in a writing signed and dated by all persons claiming the authority and provided to the primary health care provider for inclusion with the individual’s medical record.

(b)(i) If two or more members of a class having the same priority claim authority to act as an individual’s surrogate and such persons are not in agreement about one or more health care decisions to be made on the individual’s behalf, the persons claiming authority shall confer with each other for purposes of arriving at consensus regarding the health care decision to be made in light of the individual’s known desires about health care, the individual’s personal values, the individual’s religious or moral beliefs, and the individual’s best interests. Each person claiming authority to act as an individual’s surrogate shall inform the primary health care provider about his or her claim and priority under the Health Care Surrogacy Act, the claim of any other person within the same class, the nature of the disagreement regarding the health care decision, and the efforts made by such person to reach agreement between and among other persons claiming authority to act as the individual’s surrogate.

(ii) To the extent possible, the primary health care provider shall seek a consensus of the persons claiming authority to act as the individual’s surrogate. The primary health care provider may convene a meeting of such persons with the primary health care provider and, as available and appropriate, other health care personnel involved in the individual’s care for purposes of reviewing and discussing the individual’s condition, prognosis, and options for treatment, the risks, benefits, or burdens of such options, the individual’s known desires about health care, the individual’s personal values, the individual’s religious or moral beliefs, and the individual’s best interests. If reasonably available, the primary health care provider may include members of other classes of priority in such meeting to hear and participate in the discussion.

(iii) The primary health care provider, in his or her discretion or at the request of the persons claiming authority as the individual’s surrogate, may also seek the assistance of other health care providers or the ethics committee or ethics consultation process of the health care facility or another health care entity to facilitate the meeting.

(iv) If a consensus about the health care decisions to be made on behalf of the individual cannot be attained between the persons of the same class of priority claiming authority to act as the individual’s surrogate to enable a timely decision to be made on behalf of the individual, then such persons shall be deemed disqualified to make health care decisions on behalf of the individual. The primary health care provider may then confer with other persons in the same class or within the other classes of lower priority consistent with subsection (2) of this section who may be reasonably available to make health care decisions on behalf of the individual.

(v) If no other person is reasonably available to act as a surrogate on behalf of the individual, then the primary health care provider may, consistent with the Health Care Surrogacy Act, take actions or decline to take actions determined by the primary health care provider to be appropriate, to be in accordance with the individual’s personal values, if known, and moral and religious beliefs, if known, and to be in the best interests of the individual.

(6) A surrogate’s authority shall continue in effect until the earlier of any of the following:

(a) A guardian is appointed for the individual;

(b) The primary health care provider determines that the individual is capable of making his or her own health care decision;

(c) A person with higher priority to act as a surrogate under subsection (2) of this section becomes reasonably available;

(d) The individual is transferred to another health care facility; or

(e) The death of the individual.

(7)(a) An individual, if able to communicate the same, may disqualify another person from serving as the individual’s surrogate, including a member of the individual’s family, by a signed and dated writing or by personally informing the primary health care provider and a witness of the disqualification. In order to be a witness under this subdivision, a person shall be an adult or emancipated minor who is not among the persons who may serve as a surrogate under subsection (2) of this section.

(b) When the existence of a disqualification under this subsection becomes known, it shall be made a part of the individual’s medical record at the health care facility in which the individual is a patient or resides. The disqualification of a person to serve as a surrogate shall not revoke or terminate the authority as to a surrogate who acts in good faith under the surrogacy and without actual knowledge of the disqualification. An action taken in good faith and without actual knowledge of the disqualification of a person to serve as the individual’s surrogate under this subsection, unless the action is otherwise invalid or unenforceable, shall bind the individual and his or her heirs, devisees, and personal representatives.

(8) A primary health care provider may require a person claiming the right to act as surrogate for an individual to provide a written declaration under penalty of perjury stating facts and circumstances reasonably sufficient to establish that person’s claimed authority.

(9) The authority of a surrogate shall not supersede any other advance health care directive.