Patient Advice: 6 Steps to Take when a Care Provider Refuses to Honor Medical Power of Attorney

Issue: Medical Power of Attorney

Medical Power of AttorneyI’m currently acting as caregiver for a patient that is demonstrating suicidal tendencies. The hospital is refusing to honor medical power of attorney.

The hospital is claiming that it is does not give her any power to advocate for her, to help her make decision, or “negotiate through the insanity.” She has to be present, according to the hospital, to sign some paper — to get some code to help.

The patient needs help getting this done and cannot do it in-person. She needs someone to go with her to work as a witness to understands what she’s going through so she can get the proper care.

In Need of Help,

Caregiver in West Virginia

Start by Contacting Medical Professional for Help to Address Suicidal Tendencies

Anytime a patient is suicidal, someone needs to call elder services, 911, her primary care provider, a local emergency room, or another service for help. It’s important to do whatever you need to do to help her immediately. I’m concerned by the caregiver’s language because it sounds like the patient is in urgent need of care.

However, if she is using that language to express her frustration with the situation, there are many routes they can try.

1. Reach Out to an Attorney or Elder Services Department

For the Medical Power of Attorney, a caregiver will need to work through an attorney or perhaps the elder services department in the patient’s hometown. Make sure that the patient’s providers identify that you are the right power of attorney. It’s important to understand why an attorney is needed. A power of attorney is a legally binding document that provides clarity to the providers.

By signing a power of attorney, a patient can make sure that their choice of decision-maker is honored.

2. For Patients with Medicare Advantage, Ask for a Case Manager

Since power of attorney issues are more common among elderly patients, it’s likely that you will be dealing with a Medicare plan. If this is a Medicare Advantage plan, the caregiver can call the health plan and ask for a Case Manager to assist both of them.

The case manager will need similar legal documents from the patient before they can discuss a patient’s care with anyone else. Once the paperwork is processed, the designated caregiver can work with the case manager to resolve outstanding issues with a care provider. In fact, the case manager may be able to assist a caregiver in getting the correct documentation.

3. For Patients with regular Medicare plan, Call Plan that Offers the Supplement

If this is a regular Medicare plan with a supplement, the caregiver can try to call the plan that offers the supplement, but they don’t always offer case managers to this population. It’s worth a try, though

4. Download Our Free eBook: Patients Speak Up: Be Your Own Advocate

If you are a family member or friend of a patient, check our some helpful advice for acting as a patient advocate, both in the doctor’s office and at the hospital. You may also want to download our eBook, “Patients Speak Up: Be Your Own Advocate,” which is available free for members of Patients Rising.

Our eBook is designed to give patients, family members and other related caregivers and supporters the tools you need to advocate for the right treatment at the right time.

5. Consider Hiring a Professional advocate or Advocacy Service

If a caregiver is struggling to wade through the paperwork, consider hiring a professional patient advocate. Websites, such as offer directories to help you find a local patient advocate to help get things started.

6. Call Medicare Directly

Finally, caregivers can get help when facing issues with a medical power of attorney by calling Medicare directly at 1-800-633-4227.

You’ll receive updates about new resources, patient stories and insights, advocacy work, and alerts about patient-support events.