The following opinion is presented on-line for informational use only and does not replace the official version. (Mich Dept of Attorney General Web Site - www.ag.state.mi.us) STATE OF MICHIGAN
JENNIFER M. GRANHOLM, ATTORNEY GENERAL
MICHIGAN DO-NOT-RESUSCITATE PROCEDURES ACT:
Application of Michigan Do-Not-Resuscitate Procedure Act to persons under 18 years of age
The Michigan Do-Not-Resuscitate Procedure Act does not authorize a do-not-resuscitate order executed by a person under 18 years of age, or by a patient advocate for a person under 18 years of age.
Opinion No. 7009
March 2, 1999
Honorable Joanne G. Emmons
You have asked whether the Michigan Do-Not-Resuscitate Procedure Act authorizes a do-not-resuscitate order executed by a person under 18 years of age, or by a patient advocate for a person under 18 years of age.
The Michigan Do-Not-Resuscitate Procedure Act (MDNRPA), 1996 PA 193, MCL 333.1051 et seq; MSA 14.15(1051) et seq, took effect on August 1, 1996. The Legislature's purpose in adopting this act is succinctly described in the Senate Legislative Analysis that accompanied SB 452, which became the MDNRPA:
Hospitals and many long-term health care facilities have over the years developed policies and procedures for honoring do-not-resuscitate requests from seriously ill patients, but no such system has evolved for handling the cases of persons outside a health facility . . . . Senate Bill 452 creates a legally recognized means whereby such requests will have to be honored.
Senate Legislative Analysis, SB 452, August 6, 1996. (Emphasis added.)
Section 2 of the MDNRPA defines a do-not-resuscitate order as "a document executed pursuant to section 3 or 5" of the act. Sections 3 and 5 provide that the execution of a do-not-resuscitate order may be made by persons "18 years of age or older," or by a patient advocate of a person "18 years of age or older." Section 2(n) defines a patient advocate as "an individual designated to make medical treatment decisions for a patient under section 496 of the revised probate code." Section 496 of the Revised Probate Code, MCL 700.1 et seq; MSA 27.5001 et seq, provides that:
A person 18 years of age or older who is of sound mind at the time a designation is made may designate in writing a person who is 18 years of age or older to exercise powers concerning care, custody, and medical treatment decisions for the person who made the designation. For purposes of this section, a person who is named in a designation to exercise powers concerning care, custody, and medical treatment decisions shall be known as a patient advocate and a person who makes a designation shall be known as a patient.
Therefore, a patient advocate may only be designated as such by a person 18 years of age or older. No exception is made in either the MDNRPA or the Revised Probate Code for a patient advocate to act on behalf of a person under 18 years of age.
The first step in ascertaining legislative intent is to look to the text of the statute. Piper v Pettibone Corp, 450 Mich 565, 571; 542 NW2d 269 (1995). A clear and unambiguous statement must be enforced by the court as written according to its plain meaning. Dean v Dep't of Corrections, 453 Mich 448, 454; 556 NW2d 458 (1996). In such instances, statutory construction is neither required nor permitted, rather, the court must apply the statutory language as written. Piper, 450 Mich at 572.
Had the Legislature intended the MDNRPA to be applicable to persons under 18 years of age, or their patient advocates, it would have so stated. On the contrary, the MDNRPA expressly limits its application to persons at least 18 years of age. It is presumed that the Legislature did not intend to do a useless thing; thus, a court must construe the statute so as to give effect to all portions thereof as reasonably possible. Hengartner v Chet Swanson Sales Inc, 132 Mich App 751, 755; 348 NW2d 15 (1984).
It is my opinion, therefore, that the Michigan Do-Not-Resuscitate Procedure Act does not authorize a do-not-resuscitate order executed by a person under 18 years of age, or by a patient advocate for a person under 18 years of age.
JENNIFER M. GRANHOLM
STATE OF MICHIGAN