If your child suffers from a debilitating medical condition, such as a seizure disorder, you would be wise to entrust certain medical decisions to someone who can make those decisions in case you are not available during an emergency. In many cases, doctors will not administer some treatments without consent of a parent or a legal guardian or of a legally designated agent. If you wish to authorize another individual to make health care decisions for your child, you can draw up a medical power of attorney. The documents must be signed by one or both parents, witnessed and furnished to the agent named in the document.
The medical power of attorney must identify the grantors -- the parent(s) who are authorizing another party (known as the agent) to make medical decisions. It must identify the agent and the name of the child or children whom it benefits. It should also have information about the child's regular physician, as well as medical data such as blood type, immunization history, a list of prescribed medications, and information on any allergies, disabilities and/or illnesses. You may also include specific permission for certain medical procedures, such as blood transfusions, emergency surgeries and life support, or give permission for temporary confinement in the case of mental illness, at the discretion of the agent. The document must have an effective date and be dated, signed and notarized.
A medical power of attorney for your child should have language releasing any providers from liability for accepting direction from the agent, as provided for in the document. This important clause protects licensed doctors, nurses and paramedics from lawsuits arising from their treatment as authorized by your agent.
Guardianship and Consent
If the grantor is a legal guardian, some states require notification of the court that approved the guardianship. In Michigan, for example, state law requires notification within seven days of the power of attorney's effective date. If the grantor is a parent, and the other parent objects to the power of attorney, then the parent objecting must file a motion for a hearing in family court. The judge will hear testimony and consider evidence, then issue an order either revoking or confirming the power of attorney.
While the power of attorney should carry an expiration date, the laws of the individual states may limit the valid period. (Alaska, for example, limits health care powers of attorney for a minor to a year). Of course, as the parent or legal guardian, you have the right to revoke a medical power of attorney for your child at any time. You may do so by drawing up a single-page form declaring that the power of attorney you previously signed is no longer in effect and providing a copy of the revocation to your agent. .