Uncategorized February 21, 2017

Are You Prepared If Your College Student Has a Medical Emergency?

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There’s so much to do to get ready to send your child off to college beyond just shopping for their dorm room, and you’re on top of it all. But, there’s one critically important thing that many parents forget to do.
doctorDid you know that in most states once your child turns 18, you no longer have access to their medical records and no longer have the right to make decisions about their medical care? That means, should your adult child be involved in an accident where they are unable to communicate on their own behalf, you have NO legal right to make decisions and manage the care they receive. Just being their parent does not automatically assign you these rights and, should you find yourself in this horrible predicament, the last thing you are going to want to do is go to court to have these rights assigned. There’s an easy fix for this; before saying goodbye to your college child, you need to have them fill out a healthcare proxy and sign a durable power of attorney. These don’t require the services of an attorney and are written in pretty simple English. At most, in some states and for some cases with the durable power of attorney, you might need to have it notarized.

[Click here for a no-nonsense, no junk, no waste freshman shopping list]

What is a healthcare proxy? A healthcare proxy is a legal document in which an individual can appoint another person(s) to make healthcare decisions on their behalf should they become incapacitated and unable to make these decisions on their own. It’s really that simple. These forms are state-specific and are available online for free on Caring Info.

[Ever wonder how to pick the perfect college roommate?

Read, 5 Tips For Picking The Perfect College Roommate]

What is a durable power of attorney? This form is probably the less important of the two as far as a college-age student is concerned, but it is still a reasonable recommendation. Don’t confuse this with a power of attorney. A power of attorney gives someone you appoint the right to act on your behalf in legal matters. Let’s say you and your spouse are buying a new house but only one of you can be present for the closing.  You would sign a power of attorney to appoint someone, usually your spouse, to sign on your behalf. A durable power of attorney is different. It gives a person(s) you appoint the power to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated and incapable of doing so. This document is very important for aging parents, but that’s a whole other story. These are also state-specific and can be found through a Google search or by clicking here.

safeWhat you do with this paperwork is as important as having it filled out. You need to have it readily accessible, so putting it your safe-deposit box would not be recommended. Rather, you should make several copies. Scan the original so that you have it in electronic form should you need to send it somewhere in a pinch. Keep an original set somewhere safe in your home. If your child has a primary care doctor near their school, it would be a good idea to file a copy there. You might also want to contact the hospital near the university, the university’s healthcare center, or the university itself to see if they maintain these documents on file. You can also ask about this at orientation (Orientation – For Parents).

It is also very important to be prepared for when your child gets sick at school, and they WILL get minor illnesses and viruses in the great petri dish they call dorms. Read, Preparing For When Your Child Gets Sick At College – Know Before They Go!   Reading this post before you even go to orientation will save you a lot of heartache when your child calls you to say they aren’t feeling well.

Parents who enjoyed this post also read, A Parent’s No-nonsense Packing List, Rushing a Sorority – What Parent’s Need To Know, and Choosing a Campus Dining Plan.

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9 thoughts on “Are You Prepared If Your College Student Has a Medical Emergency?”

  1. That is a really good piece of info to know and I’ll bet most parents don’t even think about that. Sure they make sure their child is insured and going to college may be a constant reminder that their child is grown up, I’m sure making medical decisions is the last thing on their mind.

  2. This is not something most parents think about. While it is good advice, the parents and the child should make sure they sit down and talk about healthcare during this process. The decisions a parent might make for a minor child might be different than the decisions an adult child would make for himself.

  3. This is surely a really good read for parents. It’s always that we forget the things that are small but matter the most

    1. Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, it depends on the state. So, if you don’t have access to an attorney familiar with the laws of each state and/or don’t want to pay one to ask, my best recommendation is to fill them out for both your home state and the state where your child will attend college. They are rather easy and quick to fill out – to me this seems the best solution for your dilemma.

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