Medical Power of Attorney for Children

by Lisa Magloff
    A medical power of attorney allows caregivers to make medical decisions.

    A medical power of attorney allows caregivers to make medical decisions.

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    A medical power of attorney for a child, or child medical consent, is a legal form that is used when the parents are unable to consent to a child's medical treatment for a period of time. This can occur when the child is away at camp or under the care of a relative for a period of time. This form allows the caregiver to make medical care decisions that the parents would normally make.

    Function

    Medical personnel are not allowed to carry out certain types of treatment on a minor without the parents' permission. This generally includes many types of treatment that are not emergency life-saving procedures. The consent form names a temporary guardian and notifies medical personnel that the guardian is authorized to consent to the child's treatment. The form may also contain a list of medical procedures that the guardian is authorized to approve. This type of medical power of attorney usually only takes effect if it is needed.

    When to Use

    A child's medical power of attorney or consent form is used in a variety of circumstances. If your child is going to a sleep-away camp or boarding school, you may be required to sign a consent form to allow the camp to treat your child if he becomes ill. If you are travelling and leaving your child in the case of a friend or relative, you should also make out a consent form. Many schools require parents to sign a consent form that takes effect only in the event the child is injured and the parent cannot be reached. Some people also use consent forms with babysitters and nannies.

    Powers

    A medical power of attorney for a child gives a very narrow range of powers. It does not transfer any of your parental rights other than the right to make health care decisions. This type of consent is not effective if the parent becomes disabled or dies. The form can be written so that it only covers certain types of medical care, such as emergency care only, or it can authorize any care the guardian feels is necessary. The form can also be written so that it is only valid on certain dates.

    Duration

    The maximum duration of a medical power of attorney for a child is governed by individual state law. For example, the maximum duration in Massachusetts is 60 days, while an Alaska power of attorney can last for up to one year. If the parent is in the military and is being sent to active duty, the power of attorney can last longer -- generally until 30 days after the parent returns from deployment.

    About the Author

    Since graduating with a degree in biology, Lisa Magloff has worked in many countries. Accordingly, she specializes in writing about science and travel and has written for publications as diverse as the "Snowmass Sun" and "Caterer Middle East." With numerous published books and newspaper and magazine articles to her credit, Magloff has an eclectic knowledge of everything from cooking to nuclear reactor maintenance.

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