In most cases, attorneys who specialize in healthcare law spend their time fighting to ensure their clients are able to receive the healthcare they need. But in some situations, these attorneys may instead fight against a doctor or hospital's attempts to provide certain treatments or medications to an unwilling patient. Read on to learn about a few situations in which you may want to enlist an attorney's services before you agree to any medical care or treatment.
A Guardianship Has Been Proposed
If healthcare providers (or even your family members) believe that a physical or mental condition is affecting your ability to make decisions on your own healthcare, they may petition for a guardianship. Once a trial court has appointed a guardian, this person is legally entitled to make decisions on your care, whether or not you agree with these decisions or consent to treatment.
Whether you suspect that a guardianship is in the works or legal papers have already been filed, it's important to consult with an attorney as quickly as possible. Once you're under a guardianship, you're working with many fewer rights than you had before, and having an attorney to safeguard your rights and act in your best interest can be the difference between declining treatment and having it forced upon you.
You've Been Told You Can't Leave Without Treatment
There are certain medical conditions, like the Ebola virus, viral meningitis, or radiation exposure, that can subject you to immediate quarantine in a hospital environment. Doctors and nurses may instruct you that you cannot leave because the risk of infecting passersby with a hard-to-treat or potentially fatal condition is so great. But these cases are relatively uncommon.
Unfortunately, far more common are situations in which a doctor or surgeon, confident that his or her recommended procedure will restore you to the picture of health, will firmly instruct you that declining this treatment simply isn't an option. If you check out against medical advice (AMA), the doctor may warn you that your insurance company will refuse to pay the bill and it will become your personal responsibility.
While this speech can be enough to intimidate most patients, it isn't often legally or factually accurate. And although few U.S. states have enacted "right to die" laws, you're never required to consent to any specific treatment, even if a doctor or nurse is heavily hinting that it's your best bet. If you've been told you can't leave the hospital without incurring a five- or six-figure bill or that checking out of the hospital will leave you unable to seek treatment anywhere else, contact an attorney immediately to learn more about your options.
For more information, reach out to companies like suarezpalaw.com.