Your medical records are considered private information, and they are protected by federal law. Although privacy is a good thing, it could work against you under certain circumstances, especially if you are rendered unconscious, mentally icompetent or unable to communicate due to an accident or illness. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) authorization is designed to remedy this situation.
The HIPAA authorization is a legal document that allows you to name an appointed party who is authorized to share your medical information for a specific purpose that you authorize in advance. Your appointed person could be a doctor, a hospital or even an attorney. You are also entitled to specify in advance who can view your medical records and what they can view.
When You are Likely to Need a HIPAA Authorization
You are likely to need a HIPAA authorization under the following circumstances, among others:
- Your health care providers needs your medical history from another doctor to provide effective treatment;
- Your lawyer needs information from your doctor in order to prepare a personal injury claim on your behalf;
- You need to rebut an insurance company’s contention that your injury predated the claim that you are asserting against them;
- Your health care agent needs to question your health care provider about a medical bill.
Don’t try to wait and “cross that bridge when I come to it” — if you become mentally imncapacitated or unable to communicate (after an auto accident, for example), you won’t be able to cross that bridge. Cross it now, while you know that you still can, at least with respect to potential emergency scenarios.
Even when you authorize the release of certain medical records, the release of your medical information will be based on the HIPAA standard of “minimum necessary” information, which is something like the “need to know” basis employed by the CIA. No information will be provided to anyone who doesn’t need to know it to accomplish your intended purpose.This might include, however, various hospital staff members.
Exceptions to the Privacy Rule
Privacy has limits, and under the following circumstances your medical information can be released without your authorization:
- Your health care provider must provide your medical information to the extent that it is requested by a government agency; and
- Your doctor can notify the appropriate health authorities if you have a contagious disease that might spread to others.
Content of a HIPAA Authorization
A HIPAA authorization form should state:
- Your identity;
- The recipient of your confidential medical information;
- A description of the information being disclosed; and
- An expiration date, after which your HIPAA authorization is no longer valid.
Lorenzo Law Stands Ready to Assist You
If you need to draft or revise a HIPAA authorization, or if you need to formulate an estate plan, especially if it involves authorization for end of life decisions, contact estate planning attorney Jose Lorenzo. Call (305) 999-5411, complete our online form, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our office in Coral Gables or Ft. Lauderdale. We accept clients throughout the entire state of Florida.