The Role Of A Power Of Attorney In A Health Care Setting

Apr 16, 2013

What exactly is the role of legal documents, like a power of attorney, in a health care setting, especially if a person is not related to the patient? An incident at a local hospital last week, which has struck a nerve with some LGBT groups and gained some internet buzz, spurred the question.

In summary, Roger Gorley went to see his partner, a patient at Research Medical Center, last Tuesday. Gorley told local TV he had been listed as a power of attorney but that staff ignored this, forcing him to leave and then turning to a blood relative instead. In a statement, hospital officials said Gorley had been disruptive.

Taking a step back from all of this, KCUR’s Elana Gordon turned to Anne Marie Marciarille, a health law professor at UMKC, to discuss what exactly a power of attorney means in a health care setting and the responsibilities of patients, their loved ones and providers.