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California Court Prohibits Nursing Home Decisionmaking for Unrepresented Residents Due to Lack of Notice

The final judgment in CANHR v. Chapman has been issued, ending the practice of nursing homes making decisions – including whether to give mind-altering drugs and withdraw life-sustaining treatment - on behalf of “unrepresented” residents. The judgment prohibits the use of Health and Safety Code Section 1418.8, a 24 year old statute permitting nursing home staff members to make health care decisions for residents who lack capacity to make their own decisions and do not have a substitute decisionmaker. The court's ruling follows its June 2015 decision that Section 1418.8 was unconstitutional because it lacks any requirements that nursing home residents be told critical decisions are being made for them. The court’s final judgment states "the use of Health and Safety Code section 1418.8 is prohibited" because it does not require residents be adequately notified in writing. The judgment also holds that section 1418.8 is prohibited for the administration of antipsychotic drugs and for withdrawing or withholding end-of-life care.

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