Raleigh, N.C. — House members on Wednesday beat back an attempt to change the rules for health care directives used to make medical and other decisions for patients who are terminally ill, comatose or otherwise near death.
State law requires that such directives be signed by both a notary and two witnesses, and House Bill 146 would have made that an either-or proposition instead of requiring both.
"This bill is about protecting a patient's right to make choices about their medical care and prevent family conflict in end-of-life decisions," said Rep. Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth, adding that many hospice and health care groups backed the proposal.
Only 23 percent of people execute advance health care directives because the process is cumbersome, Lambeth said.
Rep. Jonathan Jordan, R-Ashe, and others countered that patients need the security of having both a notary to verify their identity and two independent witnesses to attest that the patient is mentally competent to sign such a document.
"This is about the convenience of health care providers, not the protection of folks," Jordan said.
Opponents said there's no way to determine who the witnesses are after the fact.The bill was amended to require witnesses to provide their addresses, but the House still defeated the measure 49-68.