A plaintiff in a medical malpractice suit contended that a hospital and doctor were negligent in following her grandmother’s advance directive when the doctor intubated her 91-year-old grandmother and placed her on mechanical ventilation. The plaintiff, who is also the designated health care agent, claimed that these procedures “prolonged her life when she was in a terminal condition and caused her unnecessary pain and suffering.”
The doctor and hospital named in the suit filed a motion for summary judgment, believing that they were protected by O.C.G.A. § 31-32-10 (a) (2) and (3). Richmond Superior Court denied the motion, and Georgia’s Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court’s assessment of what constitutes immunity under that statute. The Court was concerned that the defendants did not make a good faith effort in considering the health care agent’s decisions.
The defendants appealed to the Supreme Court, claiming that the Appeals Court misinterpreted the statute. The Supreme Court disagreed and stated that the purpose of the Advance Directive Act, from which the statute derives, was “to ensure that in making decisions about a patient’s health care, it is the will of the patient or her designated agent, rather than the will of the health care provider, that controls.” The Court further showed that the doctor’s actions demonstrated a lack of good faith reliance on the plaintiff’s requests, and immunity under the sections of the statute previously listed did not apply. The Supreme Court concurred with the Appeals Court in denying the motion for summary judgment.