Doctor’s Diary October 6, 2017: Power of Attorney

(Snippets from the frontline)

Power of Attorney

A major struggle families face is who makes medical decisions if a loved one is mentally incapacitated?  Having a legal designee on a document known as Power of Attorney mitigates this dilemma.

If you don’t have this document, intuitively you might think there is a decision-making order of succession:  Spouse or domestic partner, adult child, parent, adult sibling, etc.  Not in California, as this is a statute legislated by States (see link below for your State).

Here is a recent scenario:  Wife has a stroke and is in a coma; husband defers Power of Attorney to son who wants feeding tube; hospital HMO lawyer says “no” because son does not have POA, citing California law. 

No matter how old you are, a durable Power of Attorney document should be drawn up to insure someone can speak for you.

Even if you can’t afford a lawyer, one can go online for legal paperwork (although I would pay an attorney to anoint its validity).  In the long run, doing it now will save you money, and maybe even heartache.

End of scenario:  Wife wakes up after 4 days; requests feeding tube.  Whew!

Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D.

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