Care • 3 minute read
Understanding HIPAA Release Forms
By Kristina James
Published by Ruby
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A HIPAA release form allows designated family members and healthcare providers to gain access to medical information that is protected by the HIPAA Privacy Rule. The Privacy Rule was developed to protect a patient’s medical data. Doctors and other healthcare providers face serious consequences if they do not comply with its guidelines.
The HIPAA Privacy Rule protects the following information:
- All information included in a patient’s medical record, including electronic records
- Communication between your doctor and your care team
- Medical billing information
Just because you choose to share some of your medical information does not mean you have to share it with the world. When signing a HIPAA release form, you get to decide who is privy to your information. HIPAA also practices the “minimum necessary” rule, which means that medical professionals can only share information that is relevant to your current health condition.
HIPAA can help in an emergency.
By signing a HIPAA release form, you forgo the Privacy Rule’s protection, but your doctor can tell your family everything they need to know about your current health condition. Having a HIPAA form on file is crucial when you are in the hospital and need support in making decisions about treatment options, or if you are incapacitated and need your loved ones to advocate on your behalf.
HIPAA release forms also provide your family with your medical history, enabling them to push for you to receive the right treatment. This is why a HIPAA release form is essential during a medical emergency. When your family has full access to your medical information and can share it with those who are treating you, healthcare professionals can avoid wasting time and focus on caring for you. In some medical emergencies, a few minutes can be the difference between life and death.
How to obtain a HIPAA release form
If possible, it is best to acquire a HIPAA release form before you experience a health crisis. The first step is to communicate with your healthcare providers and find out how they handle HIPAA release forms. Some providers create their own HIPAA forms, so it helps to check. In most cases, you can obtain a HIPAA form from your doctor or healthcare provider. Although, you can also download a HIPAA release form and print it at home. Caring.com provides a form on their website for this purpose. You do not need a notary or a witness when signing a HIPAA form.
According to the HIPAA Journal, your HIPAA release form should contain the following:
- A description of the information that will be used or disclosed
- Purpose served in disclosing this information
- Expiration date designating when the information can no longer be used or disclosed
- A signature and date of authorization provided by you or your representative. If a representative signs on your behalf, they need to indicate the nature of your relationship and the authority allowing them to represent you.
- A clause allowing you to revoke the HIPAA release, information on how to go about revoking it, and any exceptions preventing you from revoking
- A statement explaining that healthcare providers cannot use a HIPAA release form as a condition by which to receive certain benefits, treatments, or eligibilities
Add it to the Medical Information Kit.
While signing a HIPAA release form is an important first step, it will not serve you in a medical emergency if it’s buried in a stack of papers in your office, or in a folder in the back of your closet. Having easy access to essentials like your HIPAA release form, current medications, and medical history is critical. In Medical Emergencies: Planning for the Unexpected, we explain why as well as provide a list of other information you need to have on hand in the event of a medical emergency.
Ruby has crafted a tool where you can store this information, all in one, secure location. With the Medical Information Kit, you and your loved ones can access your medical information on a computer, tablet, or mobile device, so if you have to make an unexpected trip to the hospital, your Medical Information Kit goes with you.
Storing your medical information virtually also protects it from the elements, ensuring that important documents like your HIPAA release form are not lost in a fire or flood. Immediate access to medical necessities like these can save crucial time during an emergency, and possibly even save your life. Create your Medical Information Kit now.