GNYHA will host a program on January 17 on the legal, ethical, and operational challenges of providing care to “unbefriended” patients. The term is used to describe patients without the capacity to make health care decisions for themselves and who have no surrogates such as family members or close friends to make decisions for them. The topic has gained attention in recent years, with news outlets such as the New York Times and NPR featuring stories. And with America’s senior population expected to rise (about 83.7 million will be age 65 and over by 2050), the unbefriended patient population also stands to rise. GNYHA has partnered with LegalHealth for this program to help our member hospitals tackle this evolving issue.

The program will feature an expert panel of lawyers, bioethicists, and social workers from Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Northwell Health Lenox Hill, NYC Health + Hospitals, and Montefiore Medical Center. They will discuss the applicable New York State legal framework, operational challenges health care providers face such as strategies to uncover whether a patient is truly “unbefriended,” and steps to ensure that health care decisions for these vulnerable patients are made in legally and ethically sound ways. Interested staff from member hospitals may register for the event here.