July 26th, 2010 at 2:20 am
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Who Do You Want to Know Your Health Care Information?

by Kathryn Kilpatrick, M.A. CCC/SLP

As long as you do not voice an objection, your health care provider may be able to discuss your medical details with a family member or a friend. You are certainly familiar with the forms where you provide those names. There are very specific guidelines under HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) about who health care professionals can release your medical information to. What about situations where there are certain people who you do not want to be informed? You may want to consider having those names also specified on your forms. There have been several situations where this has occurred with some of my friends and clients.

In one situation, my client did create a list of people to call in case of an emergency and she decided it might be best if her son was not the first person to be contacted. Everyone has their own family dynamics and my client felt her son tended to get impatient especially when stressed. My client took it a step further and created a health care team with her son, another family member and two friends in health care. The other family member was designated as her Health Care Power of Attorney and that person would be the one to contact her son with the information but also to provide some support from the start. This woman’s intention was to put together people who knew her well, understood her wishes and would listen and gather the needed information so they could make an informed decision if it became necessary.

When it Comes to Your Health Information, Planning in Key

Many families do not have a plan and then a crisis comes out of nowhere. When emergencies occur and you are taken to the hospital, it is possible that those closest to you are not immediately reachable. Under stress it is sometimes hard to think of all the people that need to be contacted. Have you created a list with that information? You may want to make extra copies to have not only at home but in your wallet, and in the car. It would be helpful to figure out ahead of time others who need to have copies along with your designated health care power of attorney.

Recently my friend’s grandmother was transferred from the hospital to rehab. My friend lived out of state and her name had been omitted from the list of people who could have access to her grandmother’s medical information. She learned this when she called to consult with the nurse about her care. Fortunately the grandmother verified that she wanted her granddaughter’s name added. What if the grandmother had not been able to respond to questions? Families working together can make sure things like this do not happen so that unnecessary stress is not added to the situation for all involved. Article with additional information: Taking Charge of Your Medical Information:Communication in a Two-Way Street.

“We must build a new world, a far better world – one in which the eternal dignity of man is respected.” Harry S. Truman

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