Code of the District of Columbia

§ 21–2210. Substituted consent.

*NOTE: This section includes amendments by temporary legislation that will expire on February 4, 2022. To view the text of this section after the expiration of all emergency and temporary legislation affecting this section, click this link: Permanent Version.*

*NOTE: This section includes amendments by temporary legislation that will expire on June 9, 2022. To view the text of this section after the expiration of all emergency and temporary legislation, click this link: Permanent Version.*

(a) In the absence of a durable power of attorney for health care and provided that the incapacity of the principal has been certified in accordance with § 21-2204, the following individuals, in the order of priority set forth below, shall be authorized to grant, refuse or withdraw consent on behalf of the patient with respect to the provision of any health-care service, treatment, or procedure:

(1) A court-appointed guardian or conservator of the patient, if the consent is within the scope of the guardianship or conservatorship;

(1A) A court-appointed intellectual disability advocate of the patient, if the ability to grant, refuse, or withdraw consent is within the scope of the advocate’s appointment under section 7-1304.13.

(2) The spouse or domestic partner of the patient;

(3) An adult child of the patient;

(4) A parent of the patient;

(5) An adult sibling of the patient;

(5A) A religious superior of the patient, if the patient is a member of a religious order or a diocesan priest;

(5B) A close friend of the patient; or

(6) The nearest living relative of the patient.

(b) A decision to grant, refuse or withdraw consent made pursuant to subsection (a) of this section shall be based on the known wishes of the patient or, if the wishes of the patient are unknown and cannot be ascertained, on a good faith belief as to the best interests of the patient.

(c) There shall be at least one witness present or, during the period from March 11, 2020, until November 5, 2021, electronically present whenever a person specified in subsection (a)(2) through (6) of this section grants, refuses or withdraws consent on behalf of the patient.

(d) If no individual in a prior class is reasonably available, mentally capable and willing to act, responsibility for decisionmaking shall rest with the next reasonably available, mentally capable, and willing person on the priority list.

(e) Any person listed in subsection (a) of this section shall have legal standing to challenge in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia any decision made by a person of higher priority as listed within that subsection.

(f) The order of priority established in subsection (a) of this section creates a presumption that may be rebutted if a person of lower priority is found to have better knowledge of the wishes of the patient, or, if the wishes of the patient are unknown and cannot be ascertained, is better able to demonstrate a good-faith belief as to the interests of the patient.

(g) An individual identified in subsection (a)(5B) of this section shall not be authorized to grant, refuse, or withdraw consent on behalf of the patient with respect to a decision regarding a health-care service, treatment, or procedure if the individual is:

(1) A health-care provider who is treating or providing services to the incapacitated patient at the time of the health-care decision; or

(2) An owner, operator, administrator, or employee of, or a person with decision-making authority for, a health-care provider treating or providing services to the incapacitated patient at the time of the health-care decision.

(h) If no person listed in subsection (a) of this section is reasonably available, mentally capable, and willing to act, the health-care provider, or the District of Columbia, for those persons committed to receive habilitation or other services pursuant to Chapter 13 of Title 7, or any interested person may petition the Superior Court of the District of Columbia for appointment of a guardian pursuant to section 21-2044 or section 21-2046.

(i) The health-care provider who is treating or providing services to the incapacitated patient at the time of the health-care decision shall accept the decision of the individual authorized under this section to grant, refuse, or withdraw consent on behalf of the patient as the decision of the principal.