Can I override the medical decisions that Dad's power of attorney is making?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 21, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Two years ago My Step Mother was given power of attorney over my Father who has small cell lung cancer, He is now in his fith year and was put on hospice a few months ago even though he is doing pretty well so far but she wont make an appointment for him at his request and his Doctors to see him. Can I override her to make these appointments for him ?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a 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.

It is unusual"”and troubling"”that the person named as agent in a power of attorney for healthcare would ignore the principal's specific wishes for care.

Sometimes, those named in power of attorney documents get a little too caught up with their powers, and there is a chance that has happened with your stepmother. If your father is requesting the appointments, and is mentally competent, then he has the authority to make those appointments for himself.

If he is not able to make an appointment, you might try communicating with one of the hospice workers, as they are supposed to be a part of your father's caregiving team, so should be completely apprised of his care needs and concerns. It is likely they communicate with his doctor on a fairly regular basis"”or should"”so this may be the most efficient and least stressful way to proceed.

If none of these options work, you may need to steel yourself and ask your stepmother what is behind her refusal. There is a chance your father communicates differently with you and her, so there may be some crossed understandings there.