In part 1 I focused on the financials. This time I’ll focus on the medical side of things – specifically hospital visitation.
After getting our Colorado Designated Beneficiary Agreement (DBA) executed two weeks ago I decided it would be a good idea to verify that our Medical Power of Attorney documents included a hospital visitation directive. To my surprise, and panic, they did not. If you’ll recall the DBA allows you to specifically designate the other person with the authority to visit you in the hospital but that document only applies to Colorado. After discovering we did not have any such document for outside Colorado I had them drawn up.
For the uninitiated, most hospital critical care units (ERs, etc) limit visitors to “family members”, with “family” being defined by whomever nurse is the gatekeeper at that particular moment. If you do not meet the arbitrary definition of “family” required by the gatekeeper – you don’t get access. A Hospital Visitation Authorization document is simply a document that codifies your wishes for who should be able to visit you in such a situation.
But lets step back and evaluate the reality of the situation: if you’re needing access to your spouse who is in the ER and unable to voice their desire for your presence, you’re at the mercy of the nurse and their definition of “family”. Waving a legal document in their face might get you past them, but it might not. They could easily just route you to the hospital’s legal department. What would constitute “family” to the average person? Residing at the same address? Maybe – although any two people could be roommates and not be family. My guess is the average person is going to associate two people having the same last name as “family”: either they are married or they are otherwise related.
I think this has implications for any married couple, regardless of their sexual orientation, who do not have the same last name. I’ll point out that not only did our thought exercise not favor access via legal document too highly – reality doesn’t either. It is, however, another tool in the arsenal.