When Parents Are Away: Info Every Caregiver Must Have

Medically reviewed in December 2021

The little boy was sitting in the ER, crying. He had fallen off his bicycle and broken his arm. And I legally wasn’t allowed to fix it.

Why? His parents were out of town and had left him with a caregiver, but hadn’t left any documentation on “right to approve treatment”. While we were legally allowed to stabilize his “emergency conditions” (which I did), I couldn’t initiate procedures to take the next steps to repair it (such as sedation or arranging for surgery) without his parent’s consent. Unfortunately, they were on a hiking trip in the backwoods of Canada. So not only was he scared and upset to be in the ER, we weren’t able to fully take care of the problem at the moment.

Do you know what paperwork you need to leave with a caregiver when you’re away? If not, read on. With a little forethought you can make sure that – in the event of an emergency — your children can get the best and fullest care possible. And that can give you peace of mind to truly enjoy your trip. Here's what to include in your Caregiver ER Checklist.

[Note: This checklist is intended as a guide only. Additional information may be necessary to address your specific healthcare circumstances.]

Personal Info

  • Your child’s full name, date of birth, weight (of course, you’ll need this information for every child in the house)
  • Your full home address, including cross streets (in case a call needs to be made to 911 or other emergency responders)

Medical Info

  • Medical conditions (from childbirth on, including any hospital stays, such as the NICU as an infant)
  • Allergies
  • Medications taken
  • Insurance cards

Physician info

  • Pediatrician’s name, address, phone numbers and office hours
  • Dentist’s name, address, phone numbers and office hours
  • Nearest ER where you’d want your child to be taken (I like to leave directions to the ER, too)

Contact: 3-point plan

  1. All phone numbers to reach you, including the name and number of your hotel and anyone else at your location who could get in contact with you
  2. Phone numbers of your closest relatives
  3. Phone numbers of your nearest reliable neighbor (who agrees to help) and their address. I also like to leave a second in-town person as backup.
  4. Poison Control Center number: 1-800-222-1222

Permission to Treat Form
This form gives a doctor permission to provide medical treatment when your child is in someone else's care, whether it's a babysitter or a relative such as a grandparent. If a child is legally considered a minor, the ER must regard the child as such. Requirements for such authorizations may vary by state and/or facilities, so be sure to check what is required in yours.

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