H.B. No 880

WITNESSING PROVISIONS OF THE NATURAL DEATH ACT

Effective Date: January 1, 1998

AN ACT

relating to the witnessing provisions of the Natural Death Act.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:

SECTION 1.  Section 672.003(c), Health and Safety Code, is amended to read as follows:

(c)  A witness may not be:

(1)  a person designated by the declarant to make a treatment decision;

(2)  a person related to the declarant by blood or marriage;

(3)  a person [(2)]  entitled to any part of the declarant's estate after the declarant's death under a will or codicil executed by the declarant or by operation of law;

(4) [(3)]  the attending physician;

(5) [(4)]  an employee of the attending physician;

(6) [(5)]  an employee of a health care facility in which the declarant is a patient if the employee is providing direct patient care to the declarant or is an officer, director, partner, or business office employee of the health care facility or of any parent organization of the health care facility [is directly involved in the financial affairs of the facility];

[(6)  a patient in a health care facility in which the declarant is a patient;] or

(7)  a person who, at the time the written directive is executed or if the directive is a nonwritten directive issued under Section 672.005, at the time the nonwritten directive is issued, has a claim against any part of the declarant's estate after the declarant's death.

SECTION 2.  Section 672.004, Health and Safety Code, is amended to read as follows:

Sec. 672.004.  FORM OF WRITTEN DIRECTIVE. A written directive may be in the following form:

"DIRECTIVE TO PHYSICIANS

"Directive made this __________ day of __________ (month, year).

"I __________, being of sound mind, wilfully and voluntarily make known my desire that my life shall not be artificially prolonged under the circumstances set forth in this directive.

"1.  If at any time I should have an incurable or irreversible condition caused by injury, disease, or illness certified to be a terminal condition by two physicians, and if the application of life-sustaining procedures would serve only to artificially postpone the moment of my death, and if my attending physician determines that my death is imminent or will result within a relatively short time without the application of life-sustaining procedures, I direct that those procedures be withheld or withdrawn, and that I be permitted to die naturally.

"2.  In the absence of my ability to give directions regarding the use of those life-sustaining procedures, it is my intention that this directive be honored by my family and physicians as the final expression of my legal right to refuse medical or surgical treatment and accept the consequences from that refusal.

"3.  If I have been diagnosed as pregnant and that diagnosis is known to my physician, this directive has no effect during my pregnancy.

"4.  This directive is in effect until it is revoked.

"5.  I understand the full import of this directive and I am emotionally and mentally competent to make this directive.

"6.  I understand that I may revoke this directive at any time.

"Signed ___

(City, County, and State of Residence)

I am not a person designated by the declarant to make a treatment decision. I am not related to the declarant by blood or marriage. I would not be entitled to any portion of the declarant's estate on the declarant's death. I am not the attending physician of the declarant or an employee of the attending physician. [I am not a patient in the health care facility in which the declarant is a patient.] I have no claim against any portion of the declarant's estate on the declarant's death. Furthermore, if I am an employee of a health care facility in which the declarant is a patient, I am not involved in providing direct patient care to the declarant and am not an officer, director, partner, or business office employee of the health care facility or of any parent organization of the health care facility [directly involved in the financial affairs of the health facility].

"Witness ___

"Witness ___"

SECTION 3.  Sections 672.009(d) and (e), Health and Safety Code, are amended to read as follows:

(d)  A treatment decision made under Subsection (b) must be documented in the patient's medical record and signed by the attending physician [made in the presence of at least two witnesses who possess the same qualifications as are required by Section 672.003(c)].

(e)  If the patient does not have a legal guardian and a person listed in Subsection (b) is not available, a treatment decision made under Subsection (b) must be witnessed by another physician who is not involved in the treatment of the patient.

(f) [(e)]  The fact that an adult qualified patient has not executed or issued a directive does not create a presumption that the patient does not want a treatment decision to be made to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining procedures.

SECTION 4.  This Act takes effect January 1, 1998, and applies to a directive executed on or after that date. A directive executed before January 1, 1998, is governed by the law in effect when the directive was executed, and the former law is continued in effect for that purpose.

SECTION 5.  The importance of this legislation and the crowded condition of the calendars in both houses create an emergency and an imperative public necessity that the constitutional rule requiring bills to be read on three several days in each house be suspended, and this rule is hereby suspended.


Courtesy of Glenn M. Karisch, Ikard & Golden, P. C., Austin, Texas. This page was last revised on May 13, 1997.