Important Change in Indiana Health Care Consent Laws

We all make decisions about our health every day.  We take for granted our right to make these decisions.  Who will make decisions about your health when you become incompetent?

If you did not have a written advance directive, Indiana law used to have health care by committee (we see how well that is working in Washington).  Your committee consisted of your spouse, your adult children, adult siblings, parents and, thanks to the meth problem, your grandparents and adult grandchildren.  There was no priority order among your committee members; and like in Congress, one committee member can create a problem for the entire committee.

This changed on July 1, 2018.  We joined the other 44 states that have a priority plan for folks who become incompetent who do not have an advance directive.  This priority order is now:

  1. A judicially appointed guardian of the person
  2. Spouse
  3. Adult Child
  4. Parent
  5. Adult sibling
  6. Grandparents
  7. Adult grandchild
  8. Nearest relative in next degree of kinship who is not listed in sections 2-7
  9. Friend who:
    1. Is an adult;
    2. Has maintained regular contact with the individual and;
    3. Is familiar with the individual’s activities, health and religious or moral beliefs.
  10. The individual’s religious superior, if the individual is a member of a religious order

Where there is more than one member of a voting group, they must try and reach consensus of what should be done.  If they disagree, majority rules.

The following cannot make health care decisions:

  1. A spouse when there is a legal separation, or the spouse is the reason you are in the hospital
  2. A person who is subjected to a protective order involving the individual
  3. A person who is subjected to pending criminal charges involving the individual
  4. A person you have intentionally excluded when you signed your advanced directive

When there is no advance directive and a person cannot consent to healthcare, the hospital must make a “reasonable inquiry” to determine who can consent for you.

Your health is your most important asset.  Take the time to name a health care representative or a health care power of attorney.  A health care representative form is found our firm’s website at  You can download this at no cost or obligation.  Complete the form and see that the form is entered into your medical records.  Have a conversation with your health care representative about your wishes concerning your future care.

Bluffton attorney Keith Huffman is a member of the Indiana Patient Preferences Coalition (IPPC) that promoted this legislation.  IPPC is a group of professionals in health care, law, ethics, and senior services who have joined together to promote Advance Care Planning in Indiana. 

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