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Stay Medically Connected: How to Ensure You Can Communicate With Your Loved One’s Medical Providers

A reminder – when our children reach 18, they are independent adults in the eyes of the law.  As adults they are entitled to privacy privileges.  What does that mean?  In short, their medical records, decisions and care are private.  Can you discuss a medical condition with his or her doctor?  Not without their permission.

There is a solution and it works for young adults, your elderly parents and anyone else you feel responsible for.  A Health Care Proxy and HIPAA Release Form will allow an individual to authorize another party to make decisions and have access to speak with the individual’s doctors and view medical records.  A Power of Attorney will allow an agent access to all other personal data including financial.

What is a HIPAA Release Form?  HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) requires health care providers and insurance companies to protect the privacy of patient’s health care information.  Those who violate HIPAA are subject to civil and criminal penalties, including jail time, which makes them reluctant to share protected health information without an authorization.

What is a Health Care Proxy?  The Health Care Proxy is a Medical Power of Attorney which allows an individual to authorize an agent to make medical decisions if he or she is incapacitated and unable to do so.  An agent acting under a Medical Power of Attorney is authorized to see the principal’s medical records to make informed medical decisions on his or her behalf.

What is a Power of Attorney?  The Power of Attorney will allow an individual to authorize an agent to manage his or her financial affairs either immediately or in the future should he or she become mentally or physically unable to do so.  This would authorize you to handle tasks such as paying bills, applying for social security or government benefits and opening and closing accounts, if necessary.

While it’s true, an agent under a Health Care Proxy has the authority to view the principal’s medical records, the Health Care Proxy does not grant authority to the agent until the principal is incapacitated.  If capacity is questioned, the HIPAA regulations would prevent access to protected health information.

This means that even parents may be prevented from accessing their children’s medical information without an authorization.  By signing a HIPAA Release, your loved ones can authorize doctors to share diagnoses and treatment options with you.  Without a HIPAA release, you may not be able to pick up a prescription for your loved ones.

The hope is that the documents discussed here are never necessary.  However, if a problem arises, you and your loved ones will be prepared.  A simple document can save a lot of anxiety during these difficult times.

All legal forms should be completed under the supervision of an attorney.  Our partners at SilvermanAcampora LLP would like to offer that supervision, in order to help spread peace of mind during these unprecedented times. Contact for more information on these documents.


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