Van Nuys, CA asked in Family Law and Health Care Law for Puerto Rico

Q: What recourse toward hospital not living up to father's living will in PR? How do we take him off life support?

My father has been in residence at La Casa Del Veterano in Juana Diaz for many years along with my mom. Sept 24/25 he was taken to Hospital San Cristobal for problems with Covid, where they were told and then provided with a living will by my aunt. They said because it was created in the US, it was not valid. I don't understand how a legal document is not being enforced. So one was then provided made in PR. This has been since Monday. It is now Thursday where my aunt and brother have contacted the hospital, they have yet to take him off of life support or provide any kind of information on his health since arriving at hospital. Saying they will only provide information to a doctor. We don't know what doctor they are talking about. NOTHING, no information has been given to anyone. Not the Veterans home, my mother, my aunt who has been given all necessary paper work to provide for my parents care in such a case.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Rafael  Pagan-Colon
Rafael Pagan-Colon
  • San Juan, PR
  • Licensed in Puerto Rico

A: The Puerto Rico Notary Law, Public Law No. 75 of July 2, 1987, as amended, requires that legal documents authorized by notary publics in the U.S. be legalized by the government institution that authorizes the commission of notary publics in that state. Then, said document should be protocolized by a Puerto Rico Attorney-Notary in order for it to be recognized as valid in Puerto Rico. If the protocolization was completed this week, having your father on life support, the hospital may be loath to disconnecting him under the present circumstances, in an attempt to avoid legal ramifications. If this is the case, you may need to go before the Court of First Instance in Ponce to request an urgent remedy to order the hospital to comply with the prior declaration of medical care granted by your father and request the court to order the hospital to provide information to your aunt or whomever your dad appointed as his agent.

That being said, the court would need to evaluate your dad's express intent as stated in the document and would consider the hospital's reasons for not disconnecting. For example, the hospital may truly believe that by keeping your dad on life support, they may be helping him to recover. There information provided lacks sufficient detail for more comprehensive counselling.

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