After being on the books for more than 20 years, a California judge ruled that a law that allowed nursing homes to make medical decisions on behalf of mentally incompetent residents was unconstitutional, according to Kaiser Health News (KHN).
The former law let nursing homes decide a resident's medical treatment if a doctor told facility authorities that they were unable to do so themselves and had no one to represent them. Alameda County, Calif., Superior Court Judge Evelio M. Grillo wrote in his decision that the law violated a resident's due process rights because it doesn't require nursing homes to tell residents that they have been deemed incapable of decision making. It also doesn't give residents a chance to object, KHN reported.
"The stakes are simply too high to hold otherwise," Grillo wrote in his decision, which was published on KHN. "Any error could deprive patients of their rights to make medical decisions that “may result in significant consequences, including death.”