As your parents age, you may become more involved in their medical care. They may ask you to drive them to appointments or help make decisions about their care. As you do this, you may find you need to get access to their health records. Because HIPAA prevents the distribution of medical information to anyone other than the patient, your senior loved one will need to grant you permission (if they choose to do so). Spouses and grown children do not necessarily have access without authorization.
Here are a few tips to help get the information you need to be able to best assist your loved one:
1. Your parent or loved one is in charge.
They have the right to designate who they want to have access to their medical records. If that person is not you, be respectful of their decision.
2. Have your loved one fill out the right form.
When the patient goes into the hospital or doctor’s office, they should specifically ask to fill out a form that says who can get access to their health records.
3. Ask your loved one if they want you present during the medical visit.
A doctor is allowed to give information to a spouse or family member if he or she is present during a doctor’s visit or a hospital stay. If the senior has a family member come with them to the doctor, the doctor can assume that the senior wants the family member to have access to the senior’s medical information unless the senior states otherwise.
4. Have your loved one complete a living will.
A living will is a legal document that states who may make decisions about the patient’s healthcare in the event they are unable to make decisions themselves. It is really important for everyone to have a living will – even you!
With a little extra attention and planning, you will be able to help your parent or loved one with their medical care.
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