Notarization For Medical Patients

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Challenges and Solutions

As a San Diego mobile notary, I’m sometimes hired to meet clients at a hospital, hospice or other medical facility.  Medical patients can present some challenges to both the notary and the signer. This type of signing requires patience, empathy and careful attention to the all aspects of the situation. The signer may be medicated, having cognitive issues or connected to life support equipment. The notary must be careful not disrupt the equipment or get in the way of doctors and nurses. In addition, there are some ethical and procedural issues that can change the way a notary handles this type of signing.

Ethical Considerations

Advanced directives and powers of attorney are two documents that are frequently notarized at medical facilities. There are some important ethical and procedural considerations that notaries must be prepared for when notarizing these documents. Extra care should be taken when the notarization is completed at a medical facility.  The main ethical dilemma a notary faces in this situation, is that patients are often sedated and thus do not meet the requirement of being alert and willing to sign.  If this occurs, the notary cannot complete the notarization until the patient is alert and aware.  This could result in increased cost due to wait times, or the notary may have to reschedule if they have another appointment. I always book extra time for these types of signings, but unfortunately there can be unforeseen issues that cause the appointment to run late.  

A notary must also make sure that the patient is signing under their own free will and that they understand what they are signing.  Although a notary cannot give legal advice, they can read the document to the client, without interpreting its contents in an effort to help them understand what they are signing.  To make sure the signer is doing so voluntarily, a notary should consider asking the patient’s friends and family members to leave the room. This way, the notary can speak to the signer alone to ensure the they aren’t being pressured or coerced to sign. Individual facilities may also have specific requirements for these types of documents.

In California, long term care facilities and nursing homes require that a patient advocate known as an ombudsmen, must be present when a patient signs an advance health care directive.  These documents must be signed in the presence of a patient advocate to ensure the document is legal.  If the document is signed without the ombudsman being present, the document will not be valid at that facility and may be invalid at other facilities as well.

Procedural Issues

In addition to ethical considerations, notaries must be prepared for certain procedural issues as well.  Hospital beds and equipment can make it difficult for the patient so move around. There are some helpful tools a mobile notary can bring with them to help in these situations.  Extra reading glasses, signature guide cards for visually impaired clients, a clipboard and a notepad for communicating with signers who cannot speak, are all tools that can help with the notarization process.

Proper Identification

Patients in these facilities might not have proper identification.  A professional mobile notary that services health care facilities should be familiar with what types of identification are valid for notarization in California.  If the signer does not have identification, credible witnesses might be needed.  In California, two credible witnesses with proper ID can be used in place of the signers identification.  The witnesses must be personally known by the signer to properly identify them.  Another common issue with clients in hospitals and medical facilities is that they are often unable to sign their name due to injury or illness.   In this situation, a notary can certify with a signature by mark.

As you can see, these types of notarizations can be complex and difficult to facilitate. An experienced, professional mobile notary is trained and equipped to handle these challenging signings. If you need help with a notarization at a medical facility, please be aware that there is a small convenience fee of $20 due to extra time spent parking and locating the patient's room. You can request a signing, get an instant quote or call 619 731-0878 for more information.