Does a Power of Attorney Have the Right to View Medical Records?

By Teo Spengler

A person named in a medical power of attorney generally has broad authority to make all medical decisions for the incapacitated principal that the principal might have made himself were he competent. She must select doctors and medical facilities and approve or disapprove medical treatment. In her capacity as health-care agent, she has the right to review the principal's medical records.

A person named in a medical power of attorney generally has broad authority to make all medical decisions for the incapacitated principal that the principal might have made himself were he competent. She must select doctors and medical facilities and approve or disapprove medical treatment. In her capacity as health-care agent, she has the right to review the principal's medical records.

Medical Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document used by a principal to appoint an agent to make decisions in her stead. Powers of attorney can be be financial or medical, the former conveying authority to make financial decisions for the principal; the latter conveying authority to make medical decisions. A power of attorney is referred to as "durable" if it remains in effect after the principal becomes incapacitated. Many people choose to make their medical powers of attorney durable to lay out who will be in charge of their medical care in case they become incapacitated.

Ready to appoint a power of attorney? Get Started Now

Agent's General Authority

An agent's authority under a durable medical power of attorney can be as broad or as narrow as the principal chooses. Many such documents give the agent general authority to make health care decisions if the principal is incapable of giving informed consent. For example, a form offered by the Nevada Division of Child and Family Services grants the authority to include consent to any treatment, service or procedure to treat a physical or mental condition and to request, review and receive any information regarding the principal's physical or mental health, including medical and hospital records.

Limiting Agent's Authority

However, the general power given an agent is subject to any limitations the principal specifies in the document. She may list out those rights she does not wish an agent to exercise. It is also a common practice to describe in a medical power of attorney any decisions a principal has already made for future health care to guide the agent's decision making. For example, the principal might state in the document whether she wishes her life to be prolonged to the maximum extent possible or prefer to have life-sustaining equipment removed when her condition appears irreversible. The agent must act in accordance with the directive.

Medical Records

It would be a most unusual medical power of attorney that specifically denied an agent the authority to review medical records. The core purpose for the document is to authorize an agent to make health care decisions; to deny that agent the power to look at medical records defeats this purpose. Few principals would want an agent making uninformed medical decisions. For this reason, most medical powers of attorney give the agent the right to review the medical records of the principal.

Ready to appoint a power of attorney? Get Started Now
Does a Durable Power of Attorney Grant the Right to Deny Visitors to a Patient?

References

Resources

Related articles

Can a Mother or Father Obtain Power of Attorney if the Child Is Married?

The tension between a spouse and her in-laws is notorious, but a power of attorney is not an appropriate battleground. A power of attorney is a legal document in which one person conveys authority to another to make decisions on his behalf. The person making the power of attorney, termed the principal, is free to choose any trusted person to serve as his agent, including his mother or father.

Types of Power of Attorney for Elderly Family Members

The health of an aging family member may determine the type of power of attorney she will agree to or is able to sign. A power of attorney is a document whereby someone known as the principal will appoint an agent or attorney-in-fact to act on her behalf. A principal often grants power of attorney to a trusted family member with a keen business sense so that she knows her affairs are being handled according to her wishes.

The Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care in New Hampshire

Many states, including New Hampshire, have statutes regarding a durable power of attorney for health care decisions. This document gives other parties, called agents, the power to make medical decisions for mentally incapacitated individuals. In New Hampshire, the appointment of such an agent is generally part of a longer document called an advance health care directive. An advance health care directive includes a living will that addresses specific, end-of-life issues.

Related articles

Can a Person Give or Turn Over Her Power of Attorney to Someone Else?

Although a power of attorney involves two persons, it is not a contract and can be unilaterally revoked. The person ...

Power of Attorney Rights

The power of attorney doesn't so much grant rights as powers. Under a power of attorney arrangement, one person -- ...

The Responsibilities of Medical Durable Power of Attorney for the Elderly

If a person becomes incapacitated, perhaps because of a mental illness like dementia, he can no longer make health care ...

Power of Attorney Obligations

A person who creates a power of attorney, known as the principal, typically appoints someone she fully and completely ...

Browse by category