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Colorado creates electronic advance medical directive system

On Behalf of | Sep 5, 2019 | Elder Law |

We have news to share with readers about another development regarding Colorado advance medical directives. On Aug. 2, a new state law took effect establishing a statewide electronic system for advance medical directives. The bill creates an online depository for advance medical directives accessible by doctors, hospitals and emergency medical personnel for direction in providing medical care to Coloradans when they are unable to express their treatment wishes because of medical incapacity.

What is an advance medical directive?

In previous posts, we have talked about what advance medical directives are and why they are important for those who want to direct what medical care and procedures they receive if they cannot communicate those wishes. An individual can also use a directive to appoint a health care agent to make medical decisions for them if they are incapacitated.

In addition to the directives described in the blog accessed using the above link, Colorado has approved another kind of advance directive, one for mental health care, also called behavioral health care. We just posted a blog about this new law, which also took effect effective on Aug. 2.

What about the new statewide system?

The legislation directs the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, also referred to as the CDPHE, to set up and maintain a statewide electronic advance medical directive system to which individuals (or their “authorized surrogate decision-makers”) can upload their advance medical directives. According to the Legislative Council Staff’s Final Fiscal Note for SB 19-073, an external vendor will be secured to create and maintain this system.

When an individual or their representative wants to upload a directive, they will request that a qualified medical provider do so. First, the individual or representative must consult with the provider face to face or using telehealth. Second, the individual or authorized decision-maker must execute an electronic affidavit confirming that the directive is “appropriately executed, current, and accurate.”

It is important for people or their authorized agents to keep directives on file accurate and current. The law puts the responsibility for maintaining an up-to-date version in the electronic depository on that person or their legal agent. By signing an electronic affidavit, any older directive in the system is revoked automatically.

The new behavioral health advance directives can also be uploaded to the new system.