It is hard to believe that we have been dealing with HIPAA or the Health Information Patient Accountability Act of 1996 for 21 years. You go to the doctor’s office and when you fill out the information on the clipboard you are asked the question to whom information about your healthcare can be released to. Same thing when you go to the chiropractor. Or even the dentist when you are just there to get your teeth cleaned.
With a HIPAA Authorization, you can identify for health care providers the persons you want information about your health care released to. Most of my clients designate their spouse and children or perhaps a brother or sister. But if you are in the hospital and everyone else is out of town, if they are listed on the HIPAA Authorization, then they can call into the hospital and find out about your healthcare.
I am going to tell you this story to illustrate a point as to why you might want to have one of these documents. Earlier this year we received a phone call from somebody that my brother-in-law who lives out in Western Kansas was in the hospital going down for the count. When my sister-in-law found out she said she was going to contact the doctor to find out what was going on. I told her she was wasting her time and that she should contact the hospital to find out what floor he was on and then call the nurses station which maintains all of the records 24 hours a day. Well she did but she learned that he had not listed her on his HIPAA Authorization and they wouldn’t tell her a darn thing. Fortunately, we found out a few days later, that he was alright.
The Authorization shouldn’t be confined to hospitals only. It should also include physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors, osteopaths, psychiatrists, psychologists, dentists, therapists, nurses, clinics, pharmacies, laboratories, ambulance services, assisted living facilities, residential care facilities, bed and board facilities, nursing homes, medical insurance companies, and any other health care providers or affiliates.
I tell my clients that they should take a copy of their HIPAA Authorization and Living Will and give it to their family physician to be maintained in their file so that everybody is on the same page as to who the players are in your life.
ELDER LAW OF KANSAS
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