“Unbefriended” is a term that refers to patients who lack the capacity to make their own medical decisions but have no family members or other trusted individuals to speak on their behalf about their medical wishes. 

These patients are at risk of getting treatments they do not want and may be treated by health care professionals who do not know them. While often encountered by social service agencies and as patients in hospitals, there is frequently no formal documentation of what a person would want or who they would want making decisions on their behalf if they no longer have the capacity to make medical decisions for themselves.


of older adults facing treatment decisions are incapable of making those decisions themselves.

LegalHealth helped bring together, for the first time, community organizations who have been working with the unbefriended population to develop approaches to reducing the risk that people will have no control over the medical decisions made for them by others. 

Furthermore, we also worked with hospital partners to determine how best to care for unbefriended patients who are admitted into their facilities.

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