It appears my recent experience at the dentist, you know, being in the upside down chair wearing my crab claw bib when the Doc rhetorically asked, "you do know we don't accept United Concordia anymore, don't you?" ... got some of us thinking on a tangent or two.
Here's some quick thoughts for those of us who have managed to get the kinder up and out, and now find that we're managing a different sort of situation -- that of our parents and specifically the medical care hoops that you jump through to support them.
I don't plan on this being a diatribe that sucks the microchips off the Cray that TypePad uses to support SpouseBUZZ bloggers ... so this is just a first shot dealing with the documentation that my wife and I have, that makes supporting our parents work a bit smoother (definitely not all inclusive or even completely refined -- but a start).
First, HIPAA. It sets the national standards to protect the privacy of personal health information. As we've found out -- without your parent(s) signing a HIPAA statement naming you specifically, then the doctors, nurses, staff and administration of the clinic/hospital are forbidden to discuss with you any of your parents circumstances, or planned procedures/treatments. Period. Dot. End.
Next, Medical Power of Attorney. This designates an agent (you) to make any and all health care decisions when your parent(s) can't do it for themselves (whether due to temporary sedation or incapacitation due to an accident) (Different from number five below)
Third, Directive to Physicians and Family. This is the document that communicates the wishes of your parent(s) about FUTURE medical treatment if they are unable to make their wishes known because of an illness or injury. (Do not confuse this with a Living Will -- the Living Will is where you would state among other things, the familiar "do not resuscitate" directive.)
Fourth, Declaration of Guardian. Resolves an issue similar to a power of attorney (and may be unique to Texas) ... states "nomination to serve as guardian for the person and or estate if the need for guardianship arises."
Fifth, your Statutory Durable Power of Attorney. Different from the Medical Power of Attorney, it designates an agent to act for the person in any lawful way with respect to designated items, such as: real property transactions (real estate to autos), banking, claims, litigation, insurance, tax matters, etc.
Last of those things we consider to be "must haves" and in this this case, only if your parent(s) have military medical benefits (i.e., they qualify for TRICARE). Get the TRICARE for Life Authorization to disclose information. It allows TRICARE to release information related to medical treatment, medical records and adjudication of claims. That last one is a biggie -- adjudication of claims.
Documentation. Get it. Have copies. Fax them to everyone who might be seeing your parent(s) at their office or wherever, and ask that it all be put in their records. In an emergency, have these documents assembled with a blank FAX cover sheet for when you get that 0200 phone call from the emergency room. That allows whatever hospital they are in to have something immediately available for that particular stay ... and they'll talk to you.
I need a beer. This stuff makes me crazy. O&O, MaintenanceToadOne