Earlier last month I unexpectedly spent a weekend in the hospital. The good news is that I got to watch a lot of football games. The bad news is that I got to watch a lot of news coverage on Hurricane Irma. I am convinced that all the news network reporters took turns standing in front of the same palm tree telling everybody how dangerous it is, and they should stay inside when they are doing the exact opposite. Anyway, the end result is I must go back and have my gall bladder removed.
But the point I want to make is that everyone should have a Vial of Life to take with them when they have to go to the hospital. What is a Vial of Life? We have been working with EMS for years and it consists of a form containing medical history about yourself, your Living Will, HIPAA Authorization Letter and Health Care Durable Power of Attorney. Pursuant to EMS instructions you put these documents inside a gallon size Ziploc freezer bag which folds perfectly in half with your name on the outside and a red EMS sticker. You then take a heavy-duty kitchen magnet which we provide for our clients and put it on your refrigerator. You take a second EMS sticker and you put it on your front door or front window where it can be seen from the street.
Heaven forbid you are home by yourself, something happens, and a neighbor has to call EMS. When they hit the driveway, they see the red sticker and know to go to the refrigerator to get the vial. Our documents contain contact information so they are making phone calls right there from the kitchen trying to find family members. Furthermore, they will take the vial with them to the hospital.
I tell my clients they need to have an extra set to take to the hospital. Even though EMS may turn the originals into the admissions office, there is no guarantee that copies will make it up to the nurse’s station where all the charts, graphs, reports, etc. are maintained. You can call at 4:00 a.m. and if you are listed on the HIPAA authorization, health care information can be released to you.
Not that I am paranoid but I keep an extra set in the glovebox of my car for I used to do a lot of travelling across the state conducting jury trials. I also take it with me when I fly out of town to visit family or take a vacation. You never know.
Another thought. I did this with my own children. When each of my daughters turned 18 and headed off for college, I made sure they had these documents in place and took them to school. Fortunately, they never had to be utilized but if something had happened, my wife and I had the authority to deal with it.
Enjoy the fall weather.
ELDER LAW OF KANSAS
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