What are the rights of biological daughters in father's medical care?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 15, 2016
Swimmama asked...

My father had surgery two weeks ago. He is now in intensive care unit at a hospital. My father is remarried and his wife is the POA and PA. My two sisters and I have no relationship with her but the relationship with our father is great. He is on respirator. She has invoked her POA and told the hospital that we are no longer allowed to visit him. BTW....her daughter is a nurse on the ICU floor that my father is on. The daughter is the contingent POA/PA for my father (they signed new forms when he entered the hospital and because she was there, she was given the contingent POA PA). Our father is dying and we can't get any medical information nor can we see him. Do we have any rights at all?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

Stress that comes along with serious illness can bring about odd behavior in even the most well-meaning people.

But it is unclear that your father's wife has either his best interests or yours in mind by barring you to have contact.

As you might have learned, hospitals can seem like fairly mysterious places"”with lots of unwritten rules in control. And your situation may be a bit more complicated because of the daughter's employment at the place.

Try to find out your father's wife's reasons for banning you. Is she afraid it will tax his energy? Be too upsetting? It may be possible for you to reach a solution by agreeing to scheduled visitation hours or some such.

But If appealing to your father's wife doesn't solve anything, then contact the hospital's ombudsman at once. You can usually find that person through the patient representative or family services personnel at the hospital. Ombudsman are impartial"”and trained to help solve problems that occur with patient care.