HIPPA rights

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HIPPA rights

 We recently requested an ASL interpreter from our doctor so I as a caregiver can participate in the appointments and treatment plan. We showed two sections of the hippa law  that states patient has the right to whoever she wants as her supporter and the second clause stating the right to have excess to appropriate language. Doctors office refuse since I was the caregiver and not the patient. Is anybody else experiences and what did you do.


Well, I responded with a medical power of attorney and a general power of attorney.  Put them on file with the hospital along with my wife's DNR papers, the hospitals own HIPPA/PHI/PII uthorization forms, etc.  I noted whom I gave them to and when and even had someone sign for the papers (on an itemized receipt) when I handed them the copies (NEVER give up the originals).  THen, when someone said they did not have them, I produced the receipt and additional copies of it all which I always had with me at the hospital.  1 or 2 run-ins with all that ammo and they stopped bugging me about ANYTHING.

You may even have to go so far as to get a statement from the hospital (social worker, patient advocate, etc.) stating that you do have the authority.

Good luck,



Medical POA will get you pretty much anywhere when you're an agent for someone medically. These need to come from the person's regular doctor. Both of you need to be present to sign this type of form. If the person you're helping is incapicatated in any way, shape, or form; then an ACTIVATED power of attorney will be what you need.

Then there is Financial Power of Attorney which will allow you access to their finances. You will need an Elder Atty to draw this up and of course, both of you need to be present.

Good luck and I hope everything works out.


I might suggest you go to an Elder Attorney and get some advice. They can help you write up a Financial Power of Attorney so you"re in charge of all of her finances.

In addition, see her MD and have a Medical Power of Attorney form written that is ACTIVATED; meaning that you are in charge of all of her medical decisions.

In addition, a Social Worker will probably need to meet with you regarding whether she wants an Advance Directive or Do Not Resuscitate Order. This involves their wishes on whether they want to be resuscitated should they go into cardiac arrest, etc.

All of these need to be filed at both the hospital, independent facility, nursing facility they're staying at, etc.; in addition to the financial power of attorney filed at her bank. Without them, I'm sorry to say, but your hands will be tied.

I carry both with me at all times in case there is any question.


This is a misinterpretation of HIPAA. Here is what the Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights, responsible for monitoring HIPAA, says: “The HIPAA Privacy Rule at 45 CFR 164.510(b) specifically permits covered entities to share information that is directly relevant to the involvement of a spouse, family members, friends, or other persons identified by a patient, in the patient’s care or payment for health care.” The only exception is if the patient objects. There are an estimated 40-50 million family caregivers in the U.S. The unpaid labor of these relatives, partners, and friends is estimated to be worth $475 billion a year. They provide 80–90% of the long-term care in the community for an aging population with multiple chronic conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Without this essential family support, these individuals would require nursing home care, which is not what they or their families want, and certainly would add enormous cost to an already strained system. Health care currently focuses on encouraging patients and families to become more “engaged,” “activated,” and “self-reliant” in care. These efforts, as well as HIPAA itself, assume a competent adult patient, able to absorb complicated information and act on it. But many of the patients most at risk for poor outcomes and hospital readmissions—older adults with multiple chronic conditions, including cognitive deficits—are not able to become actively engaged.When I talk to groups of caregivers and professionals, I often ask if anyone has had an experience with HIPAA. Invariably many hands are raised, and heads nod in agreement. I particularly remember one family caregiver, a big, burly detective who takes care of his father. He said, “It’s my job to get information from people who don’t want to talk to me. But when I come to the hospital and ask about my dad, I can’t get anyone to tell me what’s going on.” If he couldn’t jump over the HIPAA barrier, what chance do the rest of us, lacking his confidence and skills of persuasion, have? It was with some chagrin that I recently found myself on the wrong side of the privacy law. My sister, who was in severe abdominal pain, asked me to accompany her to the Emergency Room of a major New York City medical center. We waited and waited and finally a triage nurse told my sister to follow her into a room. I got up to join her, but the nurse stood in my way, saying, “You can’t come with her. It’s a HIPAA rule.” My sister said, “But I want her with me.” No way. I should have insisted but I had learned from my long experience with my late husband that a family member who raises questions or challenges a nurse quickly gets labeled as a pest or an even nastier epithet, and I did not want to jeopardize my sister’s care. (She recovered and is fine, despite two very unpleasant days on a gurney in the ER corridor.) Fears that an individual doctor or nurse can be sued for disclosing information are common but exaggerated. An individual who believes that protected health information has been inappropriately disclosed has no legal recourse under HIPAA other than a complaint to the Office of Civil Rights. Although HIPAA creates a right to privacy, there is no right to sue a doctor, nurse, or hospital. The individual can file a lawsuit under state law alleging violation of privacy, and would bear the burden of proving harm, but HIPAA would not be a factor. Some of the HIPAA violations that have resulted in staff being fired relate to theft of social security numbers or credit card numbers, which were crimes before HIPAA. Other violations have involved staff checking out their neighbors or ex-spouses information or a celebrity’s data. These are bad enough but they should not be confused with a daughter’s justifiable desire to know what kind of follow-up care her mother will need, especially if she is going to be the one expected to provide it. While fears of being sued or fined are certainly prevalent, in my opinion the overriding reason HIPAA is used to cut off communication is that it serves as a convenient excuse not to talk to families or listen to what they know about the patient. If families are kept at arm’s length, the easier it is to avoid difficult conversations about prognosis or treatment options.With some exceptions, health care professionals are not well trained in or skilled at communicating with lay people—patients first of all but even more so their families. Families are welcomed in marketing material, not so much in hospital rooms.Part of the reason HIPAA has been so misunderstood and misused is that it fits neatly into an already well established pattern of keeping family caregivers at arm’s length. Families ask questions. They want answers. If they are doing their job, they are good advocates for their family members. A law that limits sharing information offers a convenient but misguided rationale for withholding information.