Medical Power of Attorney While Away

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Kid's Doctor

Posted on July 11, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Updated Monday, Jul 11 at 11:01 AM

It is the time of year for family vacations and I have noticed many parents are also opting for a little vacation time for themselves too! (I tell my patients it’s important).  I have recently seen a number of grandparents and family babysitters bringing their “charges” into the office for a visit while mom and dad are out of town. Have you prepared a temporary power of attorney so that in case of an emergency your child can receive medical care when you leave town?

In reality, you should always leave a notarized letter that states who legally has the right to seek medical care for your children. Why does it seem like a 2 year old always gets a fever within 2 days of their parent’s departure?  While your long standing pediatrician may not require this document to see your child for an office visit while they are under the care of grandparents, there are times when it might really be needed.

If your child needed surgery, stitches or even a trip to the ER to rule out a broken arm, the emergency room will require the letter that states that the caregiver in question has the authority to seek medical care for the under age child. In most cases a parent could be reached by cell phone, even in very remote areas of the world, but on the occasion that the parents cannot be reached this document will be needed. So, why not be prepared?

We used to leave the letter on the front of the refrigerator with the names of everyone that might have the need to take our child to the hospital or doctor. The same letter was there for years, and included not only the grandparent’s names, but also friends and neighbors who would be available if necessary.  We had it notarized and updated as necessary, and thankfully I don’t think it was ever used. (My children always seemed to get hurt with me around!)

Before leaving for an adult trip, you should leave the numbers of the pediatrician, the dentist, and any other doctors that your child routinely sees. It is also helpful to leave a copy of the medical insurance card! Seems you can’t do anything without it! Lastly, include the phone number for your pharmacy.

For the very organized, you might also leave directions on how to get to the doctor, pharmacy or hospital etc. I have drawn many a rudimentary map for a lost grandparent who is now going to have to head from my office to the pharmacy to get the pink medicine filled. In most cases, the child is already well before the parents even return!

That’s your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow.

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