Administrative Code

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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 12. Health
Agency 35. Department of Behavioral Health And Developmental Services
Chapter 115. Regulations to Assure the Rights of Individuals Receiving Services from Providers Licensed, Funded, or Operated by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services

12VAC35-115-146. Authorized representatives.

A. When it is determined in accordance with 12VAC35-115-145 that an individual lacks the capacity to consent or authorize the disclosure of information, the provider shall recognize and obtain consent or authorization for those decisions for which the individual lacks capacity from the following if available:

1. An attorney-in-fact who is currently empowered to consent or authorize the disclosure under the terms of a durable power of attorney;

2. A health care agent appointed by the individual under an advance directive or power of attorney in accordance with the laws of Virginia; or

3. A legal guardian of the individual, or if the individual is a minor, a parent with legal custody of the minor or other person authorized to consent to treatment pursuant to § 54.1-2969 A of the Code of Virginia.

B. If an attorney-in-fact, health care agent or legal guardian is not available, the director shall designate a substitute decision maker as authorized representative in the following order of priority:

1. The individual's family member. In designating a family member, the director shall honor the individual's preference unless doing so is clinically contraindicated.

a. If the director does not appoint the family member chosen by the individual, the individual shall be told of the reasons for the decision and information about how to request LHRC review according to 12VAC35-115-200.

b. If the individual does not have a preference or if the director does not honor the individual's preference in accordance with these regulations, the director shall select the best qualified person, if available, according to the following order of priority unless, from all information available to the director, another person in a lower priority is clearly better qualified.

(1) A spouse;

(2) An adult child;

(3) A parent;

(4) An adult brother or sister; or

(5) Any other relative of the individual.

2. Next friend of the individual. If no other person specified above is available and willing to serve as authorized representative, a provider may designate a next friend of the individual, after a review and finding by the LHRC that the proposed next friend has, for a period of six months within two years prior to the designation either:

a. Shared a residence with the individual; or

b. Had regular contact or communication with the individual and provided significant emotional, personal, financial, spiritual, psychological, or other support and assistance to the individual.

3. In addition to the conditions set forth in subdivision 2 of this subsection, the individual must have no objection to the proposed next friend being designated as the authorized representative.

4. The person designated as next friend also shall:

a. Personally appear before the LHRC, unless the LHRC has waived the personal appearance; and

b. Agree to accept these responsibilities and act in the individual's best interest and in accordance with the individual's preferences, if known.

5. The LHRC shall have the discretion to waive a personal appearance by the proposed next friend and to allow that person to appear before it by telephone, video, or other electronic means of communication as the LHRC may deem appropriate under the circumstances. Waiving the personal appearance of the proposed next friend should be done in very limited circumstances.

6. If, after designation of a next friend, an appropriate family member becomes available to serve as authorized representative, the director shall replace the next friend with the family member.

C. No director, employee, or agent of a provider may serve as an authorized representative for any individual receiving services delivered by that provider unless the authorized representative is a relative or the legal guardian When a provider, or the director, an employee, or agent of the provider is also the individual's guardian, the provider shall assure that the individual's preferences are included in the services plan and that the individual can make complaints about any aspect of the services he receives.

D. The provider shall document the recognition or designation of an authorized representative in the individual's services record, including evidence of consultation with the individual about his preference, copies of applicable legal documents such as the durable power of attorney, advance directive, or guardianship order, names and contact information for family members, and, when there is more than one potential family member available for designation as authorized representative, the rationale for the designation of the particular family member as the authorized representative.

E. If a provider documents that the individual lacks capacity to consent and no person is available or willing to act as an authorized representative, the provider shall:

1. Attempt to identify a suitable person who would be willing to serve as guardian and ask the court to appoint that person to provide consent or authorization; or

2. Ask a court to authorize treatment (See § 37.2-1101 of the Code of Virginia).

F. Court orders authorizing treatment shall not be viewed as substituting or eliminating the need for an authorized representative.

1. Providers shall review the need for court-ordered treatment and determine the availability of and seek an authorized representative whenever the individual's condition warrants, the individual requests such a review, or at least every six months except for individuals receiving acute inpatient treatment.

2. Providers of acute inpatient services shall review the need for court-ordered treatment and determine the availability of and seek an authorized representative whenever the individual's condition warrants or at least at every treatment team meeting. All such reviews shall be documented in the individual's services record and communicated to the individual.

3. When the provider recognizes or designates an authorized representative, the provider shall notify the court that its order is no longer needed and shall immediately suspend its use of the court order.

G. Conditions for removal of an authorized representative. Whenever an individual has regained capacity to consent as indicated by a capacity evaluation or clinical determination, the director shall immediately remove any authorized representative designated pursuant to subdivision B 1 or 2 of this section, notify the individual and the authorized representative, and ensure that the services record reflects that the individual is capable of making his own decisions. Whenever an individual with an authorized representative who is his legal guardian has regained his capacity to give informed consent, the director may use the applicable statutory provisions to remove the authorized representative. (See § 64.2-2012 of the Code of Virginia.) If powers of attorney and health care agents' powers do not cease of their own accord when a clinician has determined that the individual is no longer incapacitated, the director shall seek the consent of the individual and remove the person as authorized representative.

1. The director shall remove the authorized representative designated pursuant to subdivision B 1 or 2 of this section if the authorized representative becomes unavailable, unwilling, or unqualified to serve. The individual or the advocate may request the LHRC to review the director's decision to remove an authorized representative under the procedures set out at 12VAC35-115-180, and the LHRC may reinstate the authorized representative if it determines that the director's action was unjustified.

2. Prior to any removal under this authority, the director shall notify the individual of the decision to remove the authorized representative, of his right to request that the LHRC review the decision, and of the reasons for the removal decision. This information shall be placed in the individual's services record. If the individual requests, the director shall provide him with a written statement of the facts and circumstances upon which the director relied in deciding to remove the authorized representative.

The LHRC may recommend the removal of a next friend pursuant to 12VAC35-115-200 when the next friend is not acting in accordance with the individual's best interest.

3. The director may otherwise seek to replace an authorized representative recognized pursuant to this section who is an attorney-in-fact currently authorized to consent under the terms of a durable power of attorney, a health care agent appointed by an individual under an advance directive, a legal guardian of the individual, or, if the individual is a minor, a parent with legal custody of the individual, only by a court order under applicable statutory authority.

Statutory Authority

§§ 37.2-203 and 37.2-400 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 23, Issue 25, eff. September 19, 2007; amended, Virginia Register Volume 31, Issue 1, eff. October 8, 2014.

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