Choosing Your Next Of Kin

When you’re being registered at a hospital you are asked to name your next of kin (NOK). This person is who will be responsible for you while you’re admitted.

In patients who have simple hospital courses, who they choose as their NOK doesn’t affect much… but when it comes to patients who cannot make decisions for themselves or have worsening or guarded prognosis then it can become an issue.

Here are some tips for choosing your NOK:

Choose someone who you can count on

Having a reliable NOK is important because often times they’re the ones who doctors contact to give and ask information. If that persons lives far away or overseas it might be difficult to have them perform as NOK. Not to mention, the person in the file must be willing to answer their phones and communicate with the hospital.

Choose someone who is willing

NOK often act as the liaison between patient and their family. Whenever we need things for a patient we make a phone call to the NOK. If the NOK is not interested in the patients health or wellbeing it can cause more harm than good.

Choose someone who knows you

In Jamaica, we don’t have black and white legislation as it relates to DNRs or advanced directives. Ideally your NOK would be someone who knows what you would want in certain life and death situations. Are you okay with getting blood transfusions? Who would you want around you during your time of sickness?


Most of us may never be in a situation where we can’t make our own decisions or communicate our own wants and needs- however when it does happen we often never see it coming. Talk to whoever you choose to be your NOK on your medical file and have the difficult discussion about what it is you want and need from that arrangement.


Samantha C. Johnson

I just want to say this system is going off of what I am familiar with.

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