It is important to have legal documents in place that create a management system in the event of incapacity.
Our clients know how important it is to have legal documents in place that create a management system in the event of incapacity. That is the first of several very important planning steps. Equally important is to learn to be a strong and zealous advocate. The word „advocate‟ means a person who pleads a case on someone else‟s behalf. A health care surrogate is an advocate who respects and enforces the medical choices an incapacitated person would make if they were able to communicate.
Recently we received a telephone call from a client whose Mother fell and she was taken to an emergency room. The fall had caused significant head trauma and her mother was non-responsive. The daughter presented to the hospital copies of her Mother‟s Designation of Health Care Surrogate (which named the daughter as her medical agent) and Living Will. It was her Mother‟s wish that she not be placed on life support. The hospital employees refused to honor the legal documents which led to her calling our office.
Frustrated and upset she asked “what can I do? Can you help me?” We instructed the daughter to go to the office of the Risk Manager at the hospital and inform the Risk Manager that there are valid legal documents which are being ignored. She followed our advice and the hospital proceeded to have two physicians document the Mother‟s condition (inability to give informed consent) in the medical chart so that the Designation of Health Care Surrogate was activated. Shortly thereafter, the daughter‟s request to have the hospital honor her Mother‟s Living Will was granted and her Mother died shortly thereafter in peace.
If you ever find yourself in a situation where someone at a medical or financial institution is refusing to honor a legal document that our firm prepared please call us immediately and allow us to advocate for you.