It is a common practice for people to make arrangements and plan for the eventuality of becoming sick or incapacitated to the point where they cannot make medical decisions for themselves. In this case, individuals create a power of attorney which appoints a trusted individual to act on their behalf and make critical medical decisions for them when they become unable to do so. But just as people plan for themselves, it is important for those with children to plan ahead and also create a medical power of attorney for their own children.
Generally, when children are young, a simple “permission to treat” form grants babysitters or day care facilities the ability to act should the child suffer an injury and require medical assistance while the parents are not around. If the person caring for the child is a family member or other trusted person, they can be granted an actual medical power of attorney to authorize them to obtain medical treatment for the child in the parents’ absence. This can prevent delays in treatment in the case of an emergency.
Another aspect that parents should consider is in the case of medical treatment for older children. When a child turns 18 they legally become an adult, which means they are responsible for making their own decisions. If an 18-year-old child becomes injured and requires medical assistance and cannot make medical decisions for themselves, the decisions will fall to the judgment of medical staff. If parents wish to maintain control of the decision-making process for their child, they must be given the authority to do so in the form of the medical power of attorney.
While planning for what might occur when a child is injured is not something every parent wants to consider, it is important to plan for the possibility that something might occur. Taking the time to create a medical power of attorney for yourself as well as your children can go a long way toward preventing miscommunication in the medical decision-making process should a medical emergency occur.