Chicago Hospital Asked Court to Revoke Power of Attorney

A recent Chicago court filing illustrates the difficulties encountered by caregivers of ailing parents or relatives. Sometimes, there’s a fine line between “medical” care and “long term” care and those involved in the care of a particular patient may vehemently disagree as to which category applies. This untenable situation can cause unfortunate conflicts to arise between health care provider and family members of sick patients.

This is exactly what occurred recently at Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital, as detailed in this Chicago Tribune article. The daughter of Dolores Bedin, an elderly women suffering from incurable pancreatic cancer, refused to allow her mother to be discharged from the hospital despite the hospital’s assertion that she had been ready for release since September 18th.

Accordingly, the hospital filed a petition seeking to revoke Ms. Bedin’s daughter’s right to power of attorney over Ms. Bedin’s affairs.

The reasons for the disagreement over Ms. Bedin’s discharge are more complicated than they might seem at first glance. First, as explained in the article, one possible source of contention may have been the family’s inability to provide long term care:

Adult children often struggle to arrange care for dependent parents, a problem made more difficult by gaps in insurance coverage related to non-acute care. Many seniors, including Dolores Bedin, lack long-term care insurance, and many lack adequate savings. Janet Bedin, who juggles her family responsibilities with a job that involves travel, worries that she is unable to adequately care for her frail, terminally ill mother at home.

Another possible cause for disagreement in this case appears to have been related to claims that the hospital may have committed medical malpractice:

Janet Bedin also said she believes the hospital should make a special accommodation for the family because, she alleged, Northwestern physicians failed to notify them about a mass on her mother’s pancreas, which was discovered in a CT scan in April. Bedin said they didn’t learn about it for five months, and it turned out to be cancerous.

A hearing was held a few days after documents were filed with the court and following the hearing, Ms. Bedin’s daughter agreed to allow her mother to be discharged from the hospital, as reported in this article.

This unfortunate situation illustrates the challenges faced by caregivers and the difficulties that can arise when there are unexpected gaps in insurance coverage. Although no one wants to think about the possibility of having to care for a loved one who has been injured or is ailing, it’s important to plan for the unexpected since it’s better to be safe than sorry.