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We have lived together for 2 years and have plans to get married after I finish college, he was recently in an accident at work where he fell off a roof on his head and has a breathing tube in but is coherent and can shake his head, his mother who lives 2 hours away came and has all the power as next of kin and is going against his wishes and put a block on visitation or information to anyone except her out of jealousy that her son would rather have me there. She did not tell him she put the block on so he doesn’t know to remove it when the tube is out, although through head movements and spelling out words he specifically requested I be beside him at all times as well as his best friend, but since he can’t talk he has no say. How do I communicate with him that his mother, in a fit of jealousy, has put a block on everyone and me and his friends aren’t just abandoning him, and how do I get a power of attorney when he can’t use his hands? His mother already asked me about his finances to spend his money and is going against his wishes, I need a solution ASAP before she does more harm. I live in PA if that helps at all.

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Kristen,
Keep thinking about you and wondering if anything is better for you or for your boyfriend.
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Being next of kin gives you no legal standing if the person is over 18. Evsn a wife nedds a POA to make decisions for a husband. He also doesn't need to speak to have his wishes known. There are boards where he can use his nose if he has to to spell out his wishes. If he is alert and can make informed decisions, then his Mom should not be in controll. His rights are being violated.

I would talk to a Social Worker or Ombudsman.
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”being next of kin gives you no legal standing if the person is over 18” is not correct. It all depends on state law. Perhaps it’s the law in NJ but it’s not the law in all 50 states. Next of kin can make decisions for someone over 18 without POA, some states have a heirarchy, some states include a domestic partner as well.
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Kristen,, any news here?
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You need to get in contact with the social worker. I work in a neuro ICU, the same type your BF is most likely in. We allow visitors who are not family all the time, just only 2 at a time, and one person can spend the night. The rules have changed! I am in MD, and if you are living with your BF sometimes that CAN trump the mothers wishes,, your SW will know the rules. If he is on breathing trials that is a good sign, and I hope his tube does come out tomorrow. Then he may ask his nurse or DR why he has not visitors.. they will likely tell him about the visitor restriction, and he can revoke it. We also don't have a rule that if you can't speak you can't make decisions.. lots of our patients can't talk due to breathing tubes, but are still mentally competent and there are devises that assist with communication, that is why we have speech therapist. They are about communication not just talking. Your alphabet idea is great, and there are devices that work with eye movement! As for the POA.. I can assure you not many 23 YOs have ever thought about doing that! They are not thinking that bad things will happen.. so just move forward with that as you can. Best of luck to you both, and keep us informed!
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Again appreciating you update. If you LIVED TOGETHER it is time for you to get an attorney. Sorry. Expensive. But now crucial. You need to know exactly what your rights are in your state, and they may need to be drawing in the ethics committee in the hospital NOW. So you have to see a lawyer. Very sorry. Going to cost you.
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If the nurse told you that they could do nothing about protecting your boyfriend until he can speak, my strong suspicion is that the nurse was keen to get you off her ward. Because what she said is twaddle and only makes any sense as a good excuse at the time.

There are Social Workers in hospitals. Your boyfriend is a vulnerable adult. Look online to find the right department for reporting concerns about patients' welfare and give them a call.
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After reading your updates below, some more to think about.
Clearly the Mom loves the son, no matter how inappropriate you may think she is.
The breathing tube may not soon come out. This may be an injury of the spine at the neck, which could mean paralysis of hands and arms as well as breathing. Think of actor Christopher Reeve (Superman) after his spill from his horse. Had artificial respirations until death; watch for hand movement if you can get to see him; that is crucial.
It is normal in ICU for patients to be seen by FAMILY only and those that immediate family designate as "family". Friends do not visit. That would be unusual. This is when family relations that are good are crucial. You don't have that and we can't go there now.
I agree that some of the best advice here so far comes from CWillie who suggests you make an appointment with the ethics committee. If you are living together bring proof of that; if you aren't you are unlikely to get far. If you have financials married together in accounts bring that with you as well. Ask that an interview be done with your boyfriend and a representative of the hospital.

I hope you will keep us updated. I am incredibly sorry for what you and he are going through. This is when we need a miracle.
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Kristen2667 Oct 2019
It was a c5 injury, which the doctors told me was close to him not being able to breathe on his own but he is able. Last I was in they were doing breathing trials and he was breathing on his own and just had the tube for assistance if he tired too quickly. He’s able to move his arms, his hands have very little movement but they said with physical therapy there is a good chance hand movement will come back since he is moving his arms well. We do live together and also have a dog together, we’ve lived together for 2 years now so I can provide proof of that. We keep our bank accounts separate because he is a frivolous spender and I’m a saver, so if he goes out and buys something stupid we still have the money in my account. The first few days he had tons of visitors; friends, family, even his boss. They allowed all of us back and even called me first when the accident happened knowing we have a better relationship than his mother and him. His mother is not mentally stable and I am terrified. She has physically and mentally abused him his entire life. He’s 23, a power lifter and extremely healthy so nothing like this has ever happened, he is very scared right now and needs support, not isolation. Just thinking of him alone in the hospital, terrified, brings me to tears. He stuck by me when I had cervical cancer last year (currently cancer free) so I want to do everything in my power to make him comfortable and bring him back to health, while trying to make him as happy as he possibly can be in this situation. Thank you very much, we really do need a miracle. His love and support helped me fight cancer so I’m hoping mine will help him fight this battle.
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So...I have a slightly different answer than some folks. I don’t mean offense, but:
1. What makes you so determined that you should be POA, other than you are his girlfriend? Because you say so?
2. You are not related. You are not married. If he wanted you to have POA, he likely would have granted this to you.
3. Are your bank accounts held jointly or only in each of your names?
4. You state the mother is doing things out of “jealousy”. What makes you say this? You say she is blocking not only you but everyone so how is she jealous of you?
5. Do you really know that she plans to spend his money and go against his wishes?
6. Or is she a protective mother who understands that money is going to be needed for what is probably long term medical care?
7. Have you asked to sit down with her and express your care and love for him and you’d like to be part of his hopeful recovery?
8. What harm is she doing, as you claim?

You are not on solid footing to legally demand POA. I also would like to know how old both of you are. And...here’s the tough question for you - are YOU prepared to still marry this man, who may need major care and may never walk again? Are you that committed?

I ask all this so that we can understand and possibly some of the very smart folks on this board can tailor some guidance that may help you. Bottom line is going to be that you need an attorney to advise you properly.

Meanwhile, step back and breathe... I really hope this works out well, but you must be prepared. Best wishes for both of you.
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AlvaDeer Oct 2019
He is sounding more as tho currently this is quad, so no arms, no breathing without assist. Think Steve Reeves, the Superman star after the spill I think it was off his horse. This sounds like spinal at the neck. I think that your points are excellent. Time to sit down with Mom, express all that love, lend what support can be, I imagine. I would as well like to know the age, if there was a good relationship mother to son prior to this, and if there are melded finances between boyfriend and girlfriend at this point. I agree we all sit and hope for a bit that things get better. What comes back quickest comes back best. Much like after a stroke--first two weeks tell a lot. At this point who is visiting may be last thing on his mind.
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If you have the money, you may be able to get an attorney to come out to the hospital & draw up a POA. Your boyfriend doesn’t have to be able to speak in order to assign a POA. If he can respond to yes or no questions, an attorney *MIGHT* be able to help you here. However as his mother and next of kin, she currently gets to call the shots. I’m curious, is he in the ICU or something? Are you sure visitors aren’t restricted to family only? Some hospital units only allow family members. Some don’t allow children....are you sure the mom has actually blocked you specifically?
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cwillie Oct 2019
If the reason he can't communicate easily has nothing to do with diminished cognizance then HE calls the shots, not his mother.
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This was a work related incident with serious injuries. There is going to need to be a strong POA in place here. When/if the tube comes out your boyfriend will, hopefully be able to make his wishes known that he wishes you to be at the bedside. You are not married and his mother will be serving otherwise as next of kin. I would not communicate with her whatsoever about him if she is not allowing you to see him.
When your boyfriend is able to MAKE a choice and express it in some clear way he doesn't need to be able to write, simply able to indicate his wish to a notary trained in this, who can be summoned to his bedside. When he is able to make decisions and voice them he can say who he wishes to have at his bedside. His mother may be moving to guardianship now, especially if she is smelling money in the water with an accident this serious. It is important she not sign to settle anything until she knows what the outcome is for your boyfriend.
I had this happen to a next door neighbor after her fiancee was in a motorcycle accident. The court made the mother the POA. Sorry to tell you this.
How are they keeping you from the bedside. Is there an order in place from the mother. Is she the POA? If not how can she make such an order.
I am so sorry you are going through this. This could be a paralysis that is quad in nature, that is to say below neck, everything severed including breathing. If this is so the tube will not be coming out, at least for a long time. You will be waiting to see what can be gotten back, and as not being next of kin you will not be informed. I am sorry there is not a good relationship between Mom and you, because without it I am afraid you have few rights. I am so sorry. I hope things get better quick for him, and for you both.
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She doesn’t have to be POA to make such an order. She’s next of kin and there’s no POA so she gets to call all the shots.

I’m pretty sure your neighbor was actually grant guardianship or conservator status because the courts here don’t grant POAs for incapacitated people. They grant guardianship/conservatorship.
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By the way - unless your boyfriend previously gave you authorisation, you have no right whatsoever to confidential medical information. If you were previously told such things, unless with your boyfriend's consent, you shouldn't have been. Nothing to do with boyfriend's mother's being jealous, it's the law.
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JoAnn29 Oct 2019
If he is over 18, his mother has no rights either. She needs POA to make any decisions for him.
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Is your boyfriend also 23? I.e. not a minor?

If so, his mother's putting a block on visitation rights is a deprivation of liberty. Your boyfriend has a right to receive visitors. That's the starting point, but it seems unlikely that the hospital would concede to her request to block all visitors unless, for example, the staff agree with the mother that visitors would be detrimental to his care.

They might agree, again for example, if visitors result in conflict in your boyfriend's presence, or take up staff time, or distract staff from their work. Have there been issues?

Your boyfriend's wanting to see you, even wanting you beside him at all times, is not at all the same thing as his deciding that he wants you rather than his mother to take charge of medical decisions on his behalf.

You say that she is going against his wishes. Apart from the visitors, are there any other known wishes of his that she is disregarding?
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AlvaDeer Oct 2019
Agree with you.
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I’m not sure that she can do that without a restraining order, especially if you’ve done nothing to endanger your boyfriend. She may tell you that what she’s done is “law” and you must abide by her rules. But truth is, as long as your boyfriend is conscious and aware of what’s going on, he has a say in what happens to him. If he is coherent and can communicate his wishes, he does have a “say”, and legally there must be some way he can have wishes recorded with an attorney present and have it be legally binding.
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Speak to the ethics committee at the hospital and tell them your concerns, and hire a lawyer who will interview your BF (yes, that may be expensive).
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AlvaDeer Oct 2019
I think that this is a good idea.
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