HIPAA HELP for Family Caregivers

Suppose you learn your mother has just been admitted to the Emergency Room. As your mother’s caregiver, you ask the ER staff “what’s wrong and what treatment she is getting.”  The  doctor or nurse replies that they can’t release that information  ‘because of HIPAA’.  According to The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), a  federal regulation which protects patient’s confidential  health care information,  that statement would be incorrect. “Many people, including health professionals, often misinterpret and misapply privacy rules regarding the use and sharing of health information as structured under HIPAA” says Paul J. Lanzikos, Executive Director, North Shore Elder Services.  In fact, the law allows people who are directly involved in the care of a patient or payment for services to receive information about the patient’s care. Last month, the New York Times published an informative article on how some care providers and others are misinterpreting the law, or possibly misusing the law, to avoid talking about health care issues or sharing information with families and caregivers.  Mr. Lanzikos suggests care providers, consumers and family caregivers alike review a guide he finds helpful, HIPAA Questions and Answers for Family Caregivers.