College students may need power of attorney for healthcare decisions

WSMV's Joylyn Bukovac reports.
Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 11:40 AM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Did you know that once your child turns 18, doctors can no longer share information about their health with their parents?

Once your child turns 18, federal law no longer allows healthcare providers to share information about your child’s health without their permission. This can turn into a complicated situation if your college student is in a bad accident or gets so sick that they can’t make decisions for themselves.

This is why some legal and medical professionals encourage students to add filling out extra paperwork to their college preparation to-do list.

Ellen Wright Clayton, a Vanderbilt University law and pediatrics professor, is advising students to sign a legal document to allow their parents, or someone they trust, to have a say in their medical care during an emergency.

“Most teenagers don’t do this. I mean, why would they be thinking that they could get hurt or really critically ill? But if they think about this, and if they decide they want to do this, there’s a form available for them on the web they can fill out and get witnessed, and this it is taken care of,” Clayton said.

In some states this is called a “durable power of attorney for healthcare.” In Tennessee, it’s called the “designation of an agent.”

Click here for the paperwork to designate a healthcare agent who can talk to your doctor and make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable.