As my dad was aging, we went to a lot of doctors. It was often difficult to make sure that my dad and my family understood what was happening with his health. Because my dad had been a Methodist minister for over 65 years, many people knew him and were concerned about his health. My dad was a very proud man and didn’t want everyone knowing what he was going through. It was often hard to balance getting all the important information to the people who needed to know but keeping my dad’s private information private.
If you are trying to manage this for your family, you need to know some basics about health privacy. First, healthcare providers have specific rules to keep your health information private. It helps to know these rules in order to get the information you need:
- Only the patient can give authorization to release their health information to family and friends.
- The patient doesn’t need to sign an authorization if the family member is with them at the time of the doctor visit.
- Your doctor can give your health information to other healthcare providers who are treating you or your insurance company without your authorizaiton.
- You are entitled to your health records. If you ask for them, the doctor must give them to you.
- Your healthcare provider must protect your health information whether it’s on paper or in an electronic format.
- If you need any specific information, make sure you ask for it.
- If you only want certain individuals in your family to get health information about your loved one, make sure you are very specific with your healthcare provider.
Knowing these rules helped me manage my dad’s healthcare and keep his information private when necessary.
Have you had any problems with your or your family’s health privacy? I’d love to hear from you!
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