WISCONSIN — None of us want to think that we or a loved one could become so sick or injured that we need to be hospitalized. But, unfortunately, this can happen, and it is critical to have proper legal documents and communication channels in place. Here are a few things that you can do now to make things easier later:
Now that we are dealing with a pandemic, many hospitals are limiting who can accompany or receive information about a patient during a medical crisis. If you or a loved one are unable to communicate, it is very important that you have legal documents in place like a HIPAA release, and power of attorney for healthcare.
These documents allow medical personnel to share information with a designated relative or friend. If you are incapacitated, the power of attorney can act on your behalf for medical decisions. Most hospitals have standard forms for these purposes, but you may want to consult with an attorney as well.
At the time of a crisis, it is important to have a copy of these signed documents readily available to give to medical personnel. It is also a good idea to provide a document that includes all of the patient’s medications, recent and important medical history, and doctors’ names and contact information.
If you are acting as a power of attorney or contact person for a patient, communication is key. Make sure that medical personnel have your contact information and that you have theirs. Keep good notes on who you talked to, what is being done or will be done to provide the best care possible.
If an emergency happens and documents were not put into place, you may want to reach out to a patient advocate or a hospital social worker.