An agent appointed by the patient is certainly the most suitable person to make healthcare decisions consistent with his will, in the event that the patient is no longer competent. However the agent’s task should be not only to decide instead of the patient, but also to support his will, by assisting his choices in all situations of reduced capacity. The principle adopted by many foreign legal orders is important for this purpose, as the role of the agent receives recognition before the patient’s incapacity arises. Since Italy’s domestic legislation makes no specific provision for anticipated healthcare decisions, several Courts have ruled that an amministratore di sostegno (supportive administrator) may be appointed for future health-care decisions and receive immediate legal recognition, before the patient’s incapacity arises. Some concern is justified, however, by a more restrictive view recently adopted by the Italian Supreme Court, which restricts the application of this principle.
Keywords: Supportive administrator - Health care agent - Therapeutic self-determination