Author Question: Medical Power of Attorney

Stacy Asks:

Is it possible for a father to grant a Medical Power of Attorney to another person for the general health care of their child? In my WIP, I’m dealing with an emotionally abusive father who isn’t particularly concerned with the health and well-being of his minor daughter (the mother is dead.) I wondered if her best friend’s parents might convince him to give them a MPOA (or whatever the abbreviation is) so they could take her to the doc when she is sick, etc.

Later in the story he turns physically abusive and she ends up in the hospital and will need treatment — he’ll be at home passed out from alcohol and won’t be able to grant it, so … would the friend’s parents be able to grant that? Would they even need the MPOA? How would she be treated if there was no responsible adult available?

Oh, and this takes place in 1999, not today.

Jordyn Says:

Interesting question.

Yes, the father can grant medical power of attorney to whomever he wants.

But… if there is not paperwork what happens when the child presents for medical care?

If the child presents with a life threatening situation– we will begin treatment regardless of ability to obtain consent.

If no life threatening situations exist the hospital is required under EMTALA to provide what’s called a Medical Screening Exam (MSE) to determine if the patient is having an emergency or not. If the patient is not having an emergency, the emergency department can opt out of treatment. However, in this case we could do the MSE and then try and contact next of kin for consent. Hospital policies generally dictate who can give consent in cases like this.

However, if there is concern for abuse– we will sign the patient in and get social work involved and follow their direction. We would likely treat this patient under those conditions.

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