Who makes medical care decisions for incapacitated seniors who have no one to fill that role? This legal question affecting Georgia's rapidly growing 85+ adult population is a natural match to Georgia Appleseed's vision to give voice to the vulnerable and marginalized.
The Safeguarding Seniors project explores implementation issues arising out of a new state law that provides legal protections for older Georgians who have not executed a valid end-of life directive and who become incompetent to give informed consent to health care providers.
Enacted in 2010, Georgia Code Section 31-9-2(a.1) provides that a health care facility or interested person may initiate expedited judicial intervention to appoint a temporary medical consent guardian, pursuant to Code Section 29-4-18, which outlines the procedure.
To assure this law achieves the desired positive impact, Georgia Appleseed is using the skills of pro bono attorneys and the expertise of its Advisory Panel to examine the law's implementation and to advocate, as appropriate, for any statutory or policy changes that could maximize the effectiveness of the temporary consent guardian process.
- Alston & Bird LLP volunteers, under the lead of Georgia Appleseed Board Member Mary Benton, Esq., completed a comprehensive review of Georgia statutory law on incapacitated adults' health care guardianship;
- Volunteers will evaluate issues encountered in the field since implementation;
- Health care providers and probate court judges will be surveyed on the efficacy of this tool and any impediments to its use;
- Georgia Appleseed will convene a panel of experts to assist in fact finding and guide the education and advocacy phases;
- A detailed report will summarize findings, recommendations, and action steps for advocacy or public education.
A list of the Safeguarding Seniors Advisory Committee members can be found here.