HIPAA guidelines may sometimes make the options available to you as a family caregiver unclear.
HIPAA may not be the barrier you think it is. These questions highlight the options available to you as a family caregiver in regards to HIPAA, and how both you and your loved one can best navigate the do's and dont's of the policy.
What to Know and How to Discuss with Your Loved One
The second way your loved one can provide authorization is by talking to their doctor directly. They may do this by speaking with their doctor on the phone or by discussing it in person during an appointment. This includes situations where the doctor or therapist asks your loved one directly for permission to share specific information with you and they agree, or tells your loved one that they plan to share this information with you and they do not object.
Your loved one’s doctor may also use their professional judgement and assume consent in specific situations. A situation where the doctor may assume consent is if you’re accompanying your loved one at an appointment.
For example: Your loved one may say they are okay with their therapist discussing their new medication with you but do not want them to discuss their treatment for alcohol addiction.
For example: Your loved one may tell their doctor that they would like information shared with their sister, but not their spouse.
If your loved one’s doctor or therapist believes this disclosure is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the health or safety of their patient or others, they are allowed to alert people whom the doctor believes are reasonably able to prevent or lessen the threat.
If your loved one is still comfortable with you having access to this information, they may want to discuss this with their doctor directly or provide something in writing that gives their doctor permission to share information with you again.