As many of you are aware, the Federal privacy laws restrict the ability of medical providers to give out confidential medical information about your health. While this is a tremendous protection under most circumstances, it also acts to prevent family members from receiving updates on loved ones' health without a written waiver. The HIPAA Release tells doctors who they are allowed to share information with. We often remind parents that once your children are 18, you no longer have access to their medical records, and their doctors may not share medical information with you. I'd like to encourage everyone to give some thought as to who you would want your information shared with if you wind up in a medical facility. I'd also encourage you to talk to your young adult children and put HIPAA Releases in place wherever appropriate. This is a fairly straightforward form which we prepare as a matter of course for our clients who request them.
It is also a good time to think about whether you have a Healthcare Proxy in place which will allow your chosen agent to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to. Again, neither a parent nor a spouse automatically has this right, so please consider executing a Healthcare Proxy and making sure that your primary care physician has a copy of it and that your named agent has a copy on their phone in case there is an emergency.