While talking with some friends last evening the conversation turned to Durable Powers of Attorney for Medical purposes. We all work in the medical field and frequently discuss things that could go better if only they (patients) had known.
The conversation came to a stop when one of those at the table said; we need to heed our own advice. My parents were in a car accident last week and both were taken to the hospital. Both needed surgery and the emergency room staff were looking at medical records to find a medical decision maker for both of them. Guess what, Mom was Dad's and Dad was Mom's. This was probably what so many people did years ago, but is no longer an adequate document.
We squeaked by with them able to work diligently with their fragile states to get permission; but this should not have happened. We know better than the general public the importance of these documents. It would have been so easy to just add another line in the paragraph which says, "I assign XXXXX to be my Power of Attorney for medical purposes in the event of my being unable to express my choices". The next sentence should have been, "And if for any reason XXXXXX is unwilling or unable to act in this role; I wish AAAAA to be my Power of Attorney for medical purposes". A second person on this document is just a safeguard to a situation everyone hopes never comes up, but unfortunately does more than we like to think. After all had one of them been killed there would have been no one to provide authorization for treatment, for the one still alive.