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Posted on February 25, 2019 at 8:27 AM

This Saturday, March 2, 2019 (while I am on a long flight to Belgium), tune in to the “Information is the Best Medicine” podcast for Dr. Erin Demartino discussing “Who Makes Medical Decisions When a Patient Can’t?”

Generally speaking, patients should make their own medical decisions based on their understanding of the facts, the recommendations of their physicians, and their own personal values which likely are influenced by their cultural and religious beliefs.

A health care surrogate is an adult who is appointed to make healthcare decisions for you when you become unable to make them for yourself.

As many as 90% of intensive care unit patients, often cannot make their own medical decisions. However, many lack written advance directives that might guide their care. Thus, “default surrogates,” usually patients’ partners or relatives, are called into critical decision-maker roles.

So, what happens when your ability to understand information or to make decisions becomes impaired?

Who decides what medical interventions should and should not be done?

And how does that surrogate decision-maker know what the you would want?

Dr. Erin Demartino is a Critical Care specialist. She is affiliated with many hospitals including Mayo Clinic Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. She discusses her research and work in this area, and also helps us understand how what state you live in can determine your medical care if you’re unable to make decisions.

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