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Rhode Island Durable Power of Attorney Laws

A durable power of attorney is a legal process that gives a named individual (called the "health care agent") -- usually a close personal friend or other trusted person -- to make important health care and end-of-life decisions on their behalf. This person may give informed consent to medical staff, often following guidelines established in a living will. While durable powers of attorney are generally valid in other states, they must comply with the laws of the other state.

A Brief Summary of Rhode Island Durable Power of Attorney Law

As with most other states, Rhode Island statute allows the patient's appointed health care agent (named in the durable power of attorney) to refuse any procedure that prolongs the dying process. This means that any intervention that alleviates pain or helps provide comfort may not be withdrawn. But under no circumstances may a physician (or anyone else, for that matter) help the patient end his or her own life.

The following chart provides general information about Rhode Island's durable power of attorney law. See The Power of Attorney, Living Will, and Your Health Care for a summary.

Code Section 23-4.10-1, et seq. Health Care Power of Attorney
Specific Powers, Life-Prolonging Acts Any medical procedure or intervention that will only prolong the dying process; it shall not include intervention necessary to alleviate pain or provide comfort
Legal Requirements for Durable Power of Attorney (1) 18 yrs.; (2) resident of Rhode Island; (3) 2 adult witnesses; (4) only in statutory form set forth in §23-4.10-2; (5) no effect or force to document if patient is pregnant and live birth is probable with continued application of treatment
Revocation of Durable Power of Attorney Revocable at any time in any manner declarant is able to communicate intent to revoke, without regard to physical or mental condition. Effective upon communication to physician. Controls over living will executed by same person for any inconsistent provisions
Validity from State-to-State Durable power of attorney executed in another state in compliance with laws of that state is valid
If Physician Unwilling to Follow Durable Power of Attorney Unwilling physician must make necessary arrangements to effect transfer to complying physician
Immunity for Attending Physician No civil, criminal, or professional liability when acting in accordance with the statute and in accordance with reasonable medical standards.

Note: State laws may change at any time through the decisions of higher courts or when new legislation is enacted. While we strive to ensure the accuracy of these pages, you also may want to contact a Rhode Island health care attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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