Legal Solutions

Multiple changes have been made to Texas Advance Directives Act

On Behalf of | Apr 16, 2024 | Elder Law

The Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA), as originally written, was considered far from perfect and even confusing by a number of groups, from medical professionals and hospitals to right-to-life groups. Specifically, there’s been debate around its provisions addressing when life-sustaining care should be stopped. Some of the confusion in the law left health care workers fearful that they could be held civilly and potentially even criminally liable for following a Do Not Attempt Resuscitation (DNAR) order.

After years of attempting to make substantive changes to the law, it was amended last year to take into consideration the concerns of these groups. Let’s discuss just a couple of key changes to the law.

Longer advance notice when treatment is being ended

The amended law now requires hospitals to give a patient’s family 25 days notice that doctors have decided to end their life-sustaining treatment because it would be “futile.” This is more than double the ten days in the original law. If there’s disagreement among doctors, the hospital’s medical ethics committee may have to decide. Only then does the 25-day period start. That’s intended to give families time to find another hospital who will continue this treatment if they choose to. Only if the patient is still in their hospital after 25 days can doctors legally stop treatment.

Protection for those following DNAR directions

The law now protects doctors and those following their orders from civil and criminal consequences for following the DNAR instructions as long as there’s no malicious intent. It also includes other specifics around following and rescinding DNARs and who has the authority to do so, such as the person who has been granted medical power of attorney (POA).

Texas residents can take steps to help ensure that their wishes are clear and are followed if they end up being a patient who’s receiving life-sustaining treatment after a serious injury or illness or simply at the end of a long life. They can create a detailed advance directive (living will) and an out-of-hospital DNAR. It’s also crucial to give a trusted person medical power of attorney. Having experienced legal guidance while creating these documents is crucial to ensuring their validity.