May 20, 2021

SB 109 Passes Illinois House of Representatives

photo credit: Keith Ewing / Flickr
In the afternoon of Wednesday, May 19, SB 109 passed the Illinois House of Representatives by a vote of 65-48. It will soon be sent to Gov. Pritzker's desk for a signature.

SB 109 would amend the Health Care Surrogate Act to no longer require a witness to sign the Practitioner Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form, which is used when a patient is deciding what kind of treatments they would approve when they are unable to make decisions. Additionally, SB 109 would allow a national POLST form to be used instead of the Illinois POLST form. That form similarly does not require a signature from a witness.

Proponents of this legislation argue that because some patients don't have anyone to sign as a witness for them, the current law should be amended. This reasoning is faulty because the majority of patients do have others available to be witnesses for them. Furthermore, the current requirement does not require that the signing witness be close to the patient. The witness can be anyone.

Witness signatures on POLST forms provide valuable protection that should not be taken away.