By: Trev E. Peterson

If you are sending your college aged student back to school, you should be concerned about obtaining a health care power of attorney (“HCPOA”) for your student. If your child is over 19 (or 18 in some states) the child is no longer legally classified as a “child” and you as a parent may have trouble in getting access to health care information for your student due to HIPAA and related federal and state privacy statutes. While medical providers can provide some information for emergency treatment of your student, if you want complete access to their records or to communicate with treating health care providers you should consider obtaining a HCPOA, and you should do that before your student leaves for college this fall.

If your student is already at college, consider having your student sign a HCPOA in the state where the college is located. Most likely this will require that you hire an attorney located in the state where the college is located to be sure the HCPOA is effective in that state. Your student may also be able to contact the college’s counseling staff and the staff may be able to provide your student with a standardized form HCPOA that was drafted for the college by its lawyers or the counselor may provide contact information for lawyers in the community who could help your student.

Also be sure that your student carries with them a card with your contact information on it, whether that is a business card or a note in their billfold or purse with the words “Emergency Contact Information” on the note and contact information for the correct person to contact in case of an emergency. When providing emergency contact information, use a phone number that you will answer when there’s a call from an out-of-state number. Also have your student provide the contact information to their roommate as well so that someone knows who to contact if there is an emergency.