5 On Your Side

Important medical forms to sign once your child turns 18

Posted August 22, 2019 6:35 a.m. EDT
Updated August 22, 2019 6:40 a.m. EDT

— Once a child turns 18, there are several necessary forms parents should sign if they want to stay involved in their medical history.

The forms give doctors and nurses permission to share a child's medical information with parents in an emergency -- and give parents control to make decisions about their child's healthcare if they are not able to do it own their own.

Otherwise, according to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), once a child is legally an adult, parents have no more rights to their child's medical information than a stranger would. It doesn't matter whether your child is still on your health insurance or if you pay the bills.

That surprises a lot of people. In 2017, WRAL News covered the struggle Forrest Allen's parents faced after he was critically injured in a ski accident. They had to go to court to get legal guardianship just so that they could make medical decisions for their son who, at the time, was a high school senior.

"While he was still in a coma, we had to hire an attorney, appear in court and have essentially a mini-trial," said Rae Stone, Forrest's mother. "The court-appointed guardian had to read him this document that says, 'Do you have any objection to giving up your legal rights to vote? Or to drive or to own property?' That's a terrible thing to hear. He couldn't understand it, but he couldn't object."

To prevent that from happening, parents should sign three forms:

Experts say the forms are the equivalent of a permission slip. If there's ever an emergency, they help eliminate any ambiguity. Some hospitals and college medical centers have their own forms, so parents can also obtain the forms there.