Denver, CO asked in Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death for Colorado

Q: In Colorado, can a nurse stop life support on patient w/o family's consent legally?

The patient never made a will, nor had a POA. Her immediate family was involved throughout.

1 Lawyer Answer
Stephen Johnston
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  • Pueblo, CO
  • Licensed in Colorado

A: Based on the information available, it appears that a nurse in Colorado cannot legally stop life support on a patient without the family's consent. The Colorado End-of-Life Options Act provides a path for terminally ill patients to receive aid-in-dying medication from their physicians, but it requires the patients to affirmatively request such assistance People v. Bagwell, 2022 COA 44. This suggests that the decision to end life support is primarily in the hands of the patient, not the medical staff.

Furthermore, the scope of practice for nurses in Colorado, as defined by the state's laws, does not explicitly include the authority to make decisions about ending life support Nonphysician Practitioners Licensing (CO). Nurses are allowed to provide a range of services, including evaluating health status, providing therapy and treatment, and executing delegated medical functions, but these do not seem to encompass the authority to stop life support without consent.

In addition, Colorado law has specific requirements for the withdrawal of life support. The patient's wishes as expressed in a living will or a Medical Order for Scope of Treatment (MOST) form are very important § 18.3 DOCUMENTS. These documents must be obtained from and filled out with the patient's doctor, indicating that the decision to end life support is a serious one that requires the patient's explicit consent.

In conclusion, while nurses play a crucial role in the care of patients, the decision to end life support in Colorado seems to be a matter that requires the patient's explicit request and does not fall within the nurse's scope of practice. This conclusion is based on the information available in the provided snippets People v. Bagwell, 2022 COA 44§ 18.3 DOCUMENTSNonphysician Practitioners Licensing (CO).

Tim Akpinar agrees with this answer

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