If you have a young adult that is going off to college, you really need to send them off with a Medical Power of Attorney.
When your children were little, you were their natural guardian. You could make all their decisions regarding medical care. The day that they turned 18 years old, all of that changed. You are no longer their guardian. You have no decision making authority over an adult unless (1) you are appointed guardian (temporary or permanent) by a Judge; or (2) they give you authority under a Power of Attorney.
Medical Powers of Attorney allow you to act as Agent for your young adult when they become incapable of making medical decisions themselves. This would apply if they are unconscious from a car accident, under anesthesia for a medical procedure, or suffering from some type of impairment that prevents them from being able to make their own decisions.
This document has become particularly important under HIPAA’s (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) Privacy Rule. Hospitals have often read the privacy act broadly and have been unwilling to allow patient information and condition to be released to families without the express permission of the patient. However, if you are named as the Agent under your adult child’s Medical Power of Attorney, the doctors and hospitals are required to provide the information so that you can make an informed decision regarding your loved one’s care.
A Medial Power of Attorney is an inexpensive document to prepare, and allows you to continue looking after your young adult. It is a wonderful graduation present!