The Surest Way to Speak to Your Parent’s Doctor

When the exchange of medical information is most urgent, you don’t want a one sided conversation with your parent’s physician.  You may think as their offspring you are entitled to know what’s going on.  But such is not the case. You are entitled to nothingnada, rien, niente unless parental permission has been granted.

Think back to those school trips in your youth.  I don’t know how they do it now, but when I was growing up (mimeograph machines were used to make the copies) a note was sent home, your parent signed it and off you went to the zoo.  Well once again, a parent, if he or she is compos mentis, has to sign a new version of the earlier permission slip. This required authorization which is not so new, is part of the HIPAA privacy law put into effect in 1996. The focus is on privacy and disclosing information to specifically designated people.

So how do you go about getting permission?  The most efficient way is, if you are accompanying a parent to a doctor’s appointment to ask for the authorization form.  You, or your parent, can fill in the names, and your parent signs the form. There is also a convenient form at http://www.caring.com/forms/hipaa-release-form/free-hipaa-release-form.pdf that can be used. You would need a separate form for each doctor your parent sees. If there has been a long term relationship with the doctor, it may be assumed by the doctor that the restriction  is not an issue. However, should a day come when your parent is seen by a covering physician, it would be important to have this document on file.

So, along with the Health Care Proxy, a Durable Power of Attorney, the HIPAA Medical Authorization should be on file. Hopefully, your parent will understand your efforts as an expression of your concern. There may be some resistance and accusations of meddling.  But, said at the right time, with the right words, in the right tone, this important task will be accomplished. Nevertheless, getting the signed authorization for the trip to the zoo was probably a heck of a lot easier.