Have you ever thought about how much your mom’s doctor is allowed to tell you? The HIPAA Privacy Rule protects a patient’s medical and personal health information. If your mom hasn’t designated you as someone her doctors and nurses can talk to, the amount of information you’re told is limited.
If you’re a long-distance caregiver or family caregiver, it’s important to have permissions in place. Here are the forms your mom should discuss with her elder law and estate planning attorney.
Advance Directives or Living Wills
Have your mom discuss her wishes with a lawyer. An advance directive or living will covers her exact wishes in case she cannot speak for herself. Would she want to be an organ donor? How about ventilators or feeding tubes? If there was an experimental drug, would she want it to be used?
These legal forms also delve into her religious beliefs. Is your mom unlikely to agree to a blood transfusion if she needs one? Are surgeries allowable per her religious beliefs? She can discuss her wishes for cremation versus burial or if she’d want to donate her body to science.
Medical Power of Attorney
A medical power of attorney is a legal form where your mom names someone to act as her agent. If she cannot talk to doctors due to her injuries or health, she needs her agent to act on her behalf. The agent will use her requests laid out in the advance directive or living will, in addition to the information the doctors share, to make informed decisions for her.
How Does Your Mom Get These Legal Forms in Place?
Some websites make it easy to draw up these forms online. The problem is that not every state acknowledges them, and you have to have them filled out and witnessed correctly, or they’re invalid. Your mom doesn’t want to be in a situation where she needs medical treatments, but the person she trusts to make decisions is told they cannot help.
An elder law attorney helps families avoid complications during necessary medical care. If your mom has a stroke and HIPAA protections are in place, it may be hard to get vital information regarding her treatment plan.
If your mom has taken the legal steps to name you as her power of attorney for medical decisions, you’ll have the right to look at her medical records, consult with her doctors, and make sure they’re following her wishes when it comes to the treatment path. Call an elder law attorney to schedule a consultation.