Parents complete a medical consent form or a medical power of attorney to give grandparents written permission to seek medical treatment for children in their absence. These forms are easy to find online for free. Many hospitals and physician’s offices also have medical consent forms available on their websites or at their facilities. They’re not meant to last forever, however, and should be renewed annually.
The Importance of Medical Consent
Unless it’s a life-threatening emergency, physicians are not legally allowed to treat a minor child without parental permission. If you’re not available or you haven’t signed a consent form, healthcare providers cannot stitch a cut, set a broken bone or treat other painful medical conditions. All they can do is keep your child medically stable and as comfortable as possible until they reach you. Even a quick trip to the doctor’s office with grandpa for an earache is off-limits.
Whether you’re traveling out of town without the kids, your children are enjoying a weekend at grandma’s house or a grandparent watches over your child daily, it’s wise to prepare a consent-to-treat document.
Medical Consent Vs. Power of Attorney
A medical power of attorney (POA) grants a person acting as your agent, or attorney-in-fact, permission to make decisions regarding medical care for your minor child. Depending on the circumstances, you can grant very limited authority or broaden the terms. For example, you can authorize your agent to seek emergency care only or allow him to take your children for a routine well-child visit if you’re not available to do so.
A medical POA is completed voluntarily by parents and does not limit parental rights to overrule the agent’s decisions. The POA is effective for the time period stated on the document. For an ongoing POA, such as when grandparents frequently act as babysitters, most states require renewal of the POA after one year. You can revoke or cancel the POA earlier by sending a signed and notarized revocation form to the agent and your child’s physicians.
In most states, medical consent forms for minor children carry the same weight as a POA. They are sometimes called permission to treat forms. When it comes to medical consent, your physician’s office is an excellent resource regarding the laws of your state. Many health care providers even have the appropriate forms available in their office and place copies of the completed documents in your children’s records.
Completing the Form
When you’re filling out the forms, it’s important to describe your child’s medical history, allergies, insurance information and other pertinent facts as thoroughly as possible. Having this information on file saves time and protects your child from inadvertently receiving the wrong medical care during an emergency. Many states require the form to be witnessed and notarized for validity. Once you’ve completed the process, make several copies so you can give one each to your child’s healthcare provider and other interested parties, and for yourself.
The original power of attorney should remain with the agent, in this case the grandparent, because many institutions want to see the original document before accepting the authority of the agent.
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