New Legal Road Map for Advance Directives—Practical Tips for Providers

September 22, 2006 Advisory

For years, Connecticut's laws governing living wills and the authority to make health care decisions have been a patchwork of confusing and unnecessarily duplicative provisions. Proposals to simplify and strengthen our advance directives laws have been proposed by several groups, including the Law and Ethics Task Force of the Connecticut Coalition to Improve End of Life Care (which was co-chaired by Jeanette C. Schreiber of Wiggin and Dana). This past legislative session, the General Assembly enacted a comprehensive reform bill that takes important steps towards modernizing Connecticut's advance directives laws, bringing them up to national standards. The new law, Public Act No. 06-195, takes effect on October 1, 2006. Hospitals, long term care providers, home health care agencies, physicians and other health care providers in Connecticut should take the time now to understand the new law, revise policies and protocols relating to end-of-life decisions and train staff about the changes in the law and how they will affect patient care. This Advisory summarizes the pertinent provisions of the new law and recommends action steps that providers should take right away to address changes in the law.