Why you need a POA for Health

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The day before her 18th birthday, my daughter broke her wrist and needed surgery to repair it.

The timing of her injury provided a profound lesson for us both.

As we had been her entire life up to that point, her father and I were her legal guardians at the initial doctor’s visit, with full access to the information we needed to make medical decisions for her care. HIPAA kicked in the next day, the moment she turned 18, and medical professionals were no longer able to tell me anything.

She had to sign her own paperwork (with her broken wrist) and she had to fill out a release to allow me to attend her medical consultations and surgical appointments.

Had she been knocked unconscious in the bike accident that caused her injuries and remained so the following day, her father and I might not have been able to help her make these important medical decisions.

To avoid this type of medical limbo, it is very important to complete a Power of Attorney for Healthcare form. This form allows you to designate a health care agent to make decisions for you should you become incapacitated.

These rules vary from state to state. For instance, Wisconsin is not a next-of-kin state. This means that if you are ever unable to make your own health care decisions, that ability does not automatically go to your spouse or parents.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule does defer to a medical professional’s judgment in these cases, but it is much safer to complete the paperwork to ensure the people you trust have access to the information they need to advocate for your care.

Fortunately, the paperwork you need to establish a legal Power of Attorney for Healthcare is readily available and it doesn’t cost anything to fill it out.

You can download the Wisconsin form from this site.

If you have any questions about your patient rights or how to make sure your adult children are protected, please contact us. We will be glad to walk you through your options.