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Those reams of paperwork you sign every time you go to the doctor… do you ever read them?
Most people don’t have enough patience to wade through the small print of HIPAA regulations, which is the acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
The central point of HIPAA is to govern how health care providers and insurers protect the privacy of a patient’s medical information.
This information includes a person’s physical and mental health conditions (past and present), any health care provided to that person, and billing records related to patient care.
Patients themselves are the only people outside of medical personnel who can access their medical records under HIPAA.
When HIPAA becomes a hindrance.
This level of privacy is important but can spell a huge headache for relatives of older people who need to manage their loved one’s medical care.
If the person you are caring for is relatively healthy, physically and mentally, doctors can share information under HIPAA if they are given either written or verbal consent by the patient.
But what happens if their capacity has diminished and they can no longer make sound medical decisions alone? This is the conundrum that many families of older adults are facing.
The easiest path for disclosure of medical information is if the patient has agreed in advance that medical personnel can share it with a family member.