Peace of mind for parents, and protection for students and Young Adults in a Medical Emergency

Peace of mind for Parents, and Protection for Students and Young Adults in a Medical Emergency

This article high lights the importance of having an Advanced Health Care Directive and HIPAA for any children over 18 years old. McDowall Cotter, APC is a law firm located on San Francisco’s Peninsula in California.

Most students want parents’ assistance during a medical crisis.  In the fall of 2007 my daughter suffered what turned out to be a severely dislocated thumb while playing for the University of Pacific Field Hockey Team. The trainer from the athletic department took her to student health where she called me asking for help on what to do. Unfortunately, the health care providers were unable to discuss or make recommendation to me on taking her to the emergency room at the local hospital for X-rays, MRIs and treatment, because Sarah did not have an emergency health care plan in place. Further, it was after hours and they could not find the forms for her to sign to allow them to discuss her health care with me.

Both the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) govern student “education records,” which include health records. FERPA and HIPAA limit the use, disclosure or release of health care information. The acts protect an individual’s rights but in doing so prohibit the parents from helping in a medical emergency without an emergency health care plan in place. The emergency health care plan consisting of  an Advanced Health Care Directive, HIPAA Release and school specific documents that are accessible for the healthcare providers to use.

With a few exceptions, the agent appointed by an Advanced Health Care Directive has legal authority in all health care matters unless limitations are stipulated, including selection and discharge of health care providers and institutions and approval or disapproval of diagnostic tests, surgical procedures, and programs of medication. If a person lacks the capacity to make decisions, the health care team will usually turn to the most appropriate decision-maker from close family or friends of the person. This person may or may not be the person’s next-of-kin. The HIPAA Release authorizes the disclosure or release of the young adults protected health information by their health care providers to their HIPAA Agent, allowing them to discuss with, and obtain advice from, others or to facilitate decisions regarding their health care when the young adult otherwise may not be able to do so.

DocuBank is one of several companies that provide 24/7/365 access to the documents. The DocuBank I.C.E. program is designed to protect the healthcare wishes of college students while keeping parents informed in the case of a true medical emergency.

The following spring when Sarah rolled her ankle while playing for the University of Pacific  Field Hockey Team and we had the emergency health care plan in place it was not a problem as Pam and I were keep informed about the X-ray and MRI results.

If you need an emergency health care plan for your young adult or want more information contact us at:

2070 Pioneer Court
San Mateo, CA 94403
Tel 650-572-7933
Fax 650-572-0834

McDowall Cotter provides comprehensive legal services in three areas of practice: civil litigation; business; and wealth preservation. To learn more visit us at We are a San Mateo based law firm and for more than 50 years, McDowall Cotter’s chief objective has been to deliver exemplary legal services that are personalized, effective and efficient.