Tip from a reader–NY is using SDMC for end of life decisions–to be investigated further


Effective June 1, 2014, the SDMC Program was moved to the Justice Center’s Schenectady office.  All correspondence and case information should now be sent to:

SDMC Program
NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs
401 State Street
Schenectady, NY  12305

SDMC Program staff and fax numbers remain the same.

The Surrogate Decision Making Committee Program is an alternative approach to the court system for obtaining an informed decision regarding non-emergency major medical treatment on behalf of people with intellectual, developmental, mental health, alcohol or substance abuse disabilities unable to make their own decisions or who do not have a relative or legally authorized surrogate willing to make the determination on their behalf. Eligible individuals are or have been in a residential program or received services from a program operated, licensed or funded by the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), the Office of Mental Health (OMH), or Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS). Individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities may also be eligible for end of life care decisions.

When a true medical emergency exists, New York State law allows physicians to provide these individuals with emergency treatment without waiting for consent. If the proposed major medical procedure is not of an emergency nature, and there is no one authorized and willing to provide informed consent or refusal of treatment on behalf of the individual, one option is obtaining a court order for treatment. That process is sometimes expensive, impersonal and time consuming, and often results in a delay in obtaining needed medical services for the person.

Surrogate Decision-Making Committees (SDMC) are intended to provide a quicker, more easily accessible, cost-free and personalized decision on behalf of individuals with disabilities.

  • Average time from receipt of case in SDMC to hearing and decision – 14 days
  • Expedited hearings also available
  • Second opinions are NOT required
  • Patient attends the hearing
  • No fees to either the patient or their provider agency

The SDMC Program has a small professional staff at the Justice Center and contracts with non-profit agencies in different parts of the state to process cases in their regions. The hearing committee decision makers are trained volunteers appointed by the Justice Center who function through panels comprised of four members.

If you are interested in learning more about the SDMC Program or becoming an SDMC volunteer, or receiving training, please call 518-549-0328 or 800-624-4143. TTY Dial 7-11 for the NYS Relay and give the operator 518-549-0328 or 800-624-4143. You can also email infoassistance@justicecenter.ny.gov

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