HIPAA message -- We are family

June 24, 2003

picture disc.HIPAA, the "Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996," provides federal protection of patient health information. As part of our continuing efforts to educate employees, these HIPAA-related messages will be distributed the second and fourth Tuesday of the month. Today's HIPAA message is about information regarding an adult family member's health care.

Question How can I receive information about an adult family member's health care?

Answer Often patients want adult family members, such as spouses and parents, to be involved in their health care. Under HIPAA, family members may be involved with the individual's consent. Patient consent can be either verbal or written. If the patient lacks the capacity to consent, health care providers should act in accordance with the patient's prior expressed wishes. If they are unknown, health care providers should use their professional judgment and act in the best interest of the patient.

With consent, HIPAA allows the following:

  • Family members being present during each other's doctors appointment
  • Discussing care over the telephone with the healthcare provider
  • Discussing billing information

This information applies to other individuals the patient would like to be involved in their care as well.

picture disc. If you're a manager, please ensure all of your employees are informed of the contents of these messages and how it applies to your work area. Some ways of sharing the information include discussions during staff meetings, printing and posting this message or asking your employees if they have any further questions.