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Saturday, June 9, 2012

ASD in the ER

Previous posts have discussed interaction between first responders such as police officers and firefighters. ER doctors and nurses face challenges, too. At Autism After 16, Michele Langlo writes of taking her adult son to the emergency room:
While the staff on the floor had been informed that Cody was autistic, they really were not sure what an overnight stay would entail for him or them. We explained to them that either Bill or I would need to be there with him round the clock for communication purposes.
At first, they were asking Cody questions in the same way they would ask any neurotypical person. They quickly learned that got them nowhere and they needed help.
But there was the HIPPA law to deal with as well. Something hospitals take this very seriously. Cody is legally an adult, so how was this going to work?
Bill and I both carry photocopies of our Legal Guardianship document from the court with us at all times. Bill pulled his out of his wallet and handed it to the nurse. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone quite as relieved as she was at that moment. Now we could begin to make some headway toward my son’s care.
Now I think about what kind of problems we could have faced had we not been prepared. What would have happened if we had not had that document in our physical possession at that moment when questions of legalities surfaced? Would the doctors and nurses have been legally bound to go strictly on what procedures Cody gave permission for? What if he said no? Would they have given up when they could not get legitimate answers to their questions? I shudder to imagine the horror we could have faced, especially if Cody had not responded to treatment quickly.