Generally speaking, most hospitals have an open policy regarding who gets to visit the patient. However, Arizona law does provide legal protection for an individual looking to exercise some authority over who can visit them in a hospital.
Because hospitalization can lead to severe changes in personal circumstances very quickly, hospital visitation planning can be considered part of a person’s estate plan. That means if a person finds themselves in a life situation that requires hospitalization, they can specify who can visit them.
Hospital Visitation Authorization
Before continuing, it’s important to understand that hospital visitation planning does not necessarily mean deciding who can visit you while you’re in the hospital recovering from a minor surgical procedure or just after childbirth. In those situations, it’s possible the hospitalized individual won’t have any wishes or preferences regarding potential visitors.
The visitation allowances discussed here refer specifically to the Hospital Visitation Authorization or HVA. An HVA spells out exactly who can legally visit you while you’re in the hospital, even if the person named isn’t family or has a relationship with you outside of marriage.
If you’re married, your spouse will possess the legal authority to visit you in the hospital. However, if you’re not married but in a long-term relationship, HVA will provide legal backing to ensure your partner can visit you in the hospital.
An HVA can be an invaluable tool for couples in unmarried but long-term relationships looking for some level of authority regarding their hospital visitors. On the one hand, visitation may be needed for something as simple as comfort following a difficult procedure. But on the other hand, the HVA can help the unmarried couple to engage in face-to-face communication because of a recent or upcoming lifestyle change brought on by the hospital visit.
Peace of Mind and Better Communication
Most importantly, the HVA guarantees access between yourself and your loved ones in a time of great stress and uncertainty.
Even at the best of times and the most positive of situations, a hospital environment can be extremely stressful for any family. Any existing tensions between family members, even the ones on good terms, can be unnecessarily heightened by a lack of access to the hospitalized individual.
In times like those, nobody wants to be separated from their partner. As such, it can be extremely important for you and the hospital to have copies of your HVA on file. This lowers the stress and tension for everyone and ensures you have direct access to the person you love to be by your side.
Don’t Wait to Start Planning
As stated above, creating an HVA can be considered part of estate planning just because of the possible life changes brought on by a stay in the hospital. To avoid being unprepared, it’s good to start making estate plans now before time and circumstance prevent your wishes from being communicated and carried out by the proper authorities.
So if you’re interested in creating an estate plan, writing up an HVA, or just have questions about who can legally visit you in the hospital, contact the Nicole Pavlik Law Firm today.