Anne Stott

What to do when doctors stop you from seeing your hospitalized partner.

Yetta Kurland Answers Your Real-life Legal Questions
Dear Yetta,

My partner is extremely ill. She has been in the hospital for quite a while but her condition has recently worsened and now her parents are trying to prevent me from seeing her. I have to argue with them over every visit and every little thing that comes up. They are also making medical decisions that I know she wouldn’t agree with. I feel completely distraught and powerless. I believe I know what is best for her but I feel like I don’t have a voice.  As her partner what rights do I have to stop her family from controlling her medical treatment? 

Signed,
Without a Voice


Dear Voice,

I am saddened to hear about your partner’s illness and the unfortunate situation you are facing.  Being forced to argue over the medical treatment of a loved one only makes the process more difficult. 
If you are registered domestic partners, you have a right to access your partner’s medical records, and you have the right to act as a proxy and to assert her rights.  In addition, even without a Health Care Proxy under Public Health Law § 2805-q, it is unlawful to deny a domestic partner any rights of visitation of her domestic partner at any hospital, nursing home or health care facility.

But even if you are not registered domestic partners, your partner can execute a Health Care Proxy at the hospital.  Many hospitals have the necessary forms there, or if your partner has specific wishes about her medical treatment, your attorney can come to the hospital and execute a Health Care Proxy and medical directive at her bedside.  The medical directive is especially important because it tells the doctors and her family what type of medical treatment your partner will want withheld if she becomes incapacitated.  Remember the story of Terry Shivo, the woman who was kept on life support for years because she did not have a medical directive. Shivo’s story received national attention and serves to remind us of the vital importance of documents like these. Talk to your partner and take steps to make sure that her voice is heard through yours. 

I hope your partner gets better and I wish you both the best. 

Good luck,
Yetta

Email questions to kurland@helloworld.edu or call 212-253-6911

*This column is not a consultation with an attorney and should in no way be construed as such or as a substitute for such consultation. Anyone with legal issues or concerns should seek the advice of her own attorney
Olivia
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