Southern Medical Journal, Vol. 87, No. 10 (October 1994), pp. 971-977


The Patient Self-Determination Act became effective in December 1991 and mandates that patients be given information about legal rights regarding living wills and durable powers of attorney for health care. We investigated the impact this law has had on hospitals, medical personnel, and patients. We conducted a survey of all hospitals in the state of Georgia, collecting data regarding implementation and knowledge of the law, as well as effects of the law and beliefs about it. The data indicated that hospitals relied primarily on the Georgia Hospital Association for implementation policy, that "minimalist" implementation of the law occurs in most hospitals, and that the biggest perceived problem with the law was the inappropriateness of presenting this information at hospital admission and problems patients had in comprehending the materials presented. Despite these concerns, most respondents did not want the law repealed.