Information Management

Doctors & Family: What Patient Information Can They Share?

Joel Lim

|

January 5, 2024

Trustworthy is an intelligent digital vault that protects and optimizes your family's information so that you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind.

patient information doctor can share

The intelligent digital vault for families

Trustworthy protects and optimizes important family information so you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind

When you go to the doctor, you can rest assured your personal information is safe. It's because of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, which was created to protect your confidential medical information. 

However, what happens if a family member, especially an older loved one, is unable to share important medical information with you? To help you navigate the confusing world of HIPAA rules, we put together a practical guide on what patient information doctors can share with family members.  


Key Takeaways 

  • The HIPAA ensures that medical information is not shared with a third party without the patient's consent.


  • Doctors can share patient information with family if there is consent, the patient does not object, during emergencies, if others are in danger, or if the law requires the information. 


  • Doctors can only share relevant and necessary information for the current case. 


What Patient Info Can Doctors Share?

what patient info can doctors share

Unless the patient has given the doctor specific instructions on what information can be shared, they will generally follow the "minimum necessary" disclosure. This means they won't disclose a patient's entire medical history but rather just provide medical information that’s absolutely necessary to the current case. 

During emergencies, doctors can share information with family if the patient is unable to make their own decisions. For example, doctors can share prescribed medication and instructions on dosage and how to take it. 

They can share medical information that’s in the patient's best interests. This includes information on what to avoid or what type of care they will need to improve their condition. 

However, if a loved one has healthcare power of attorney, they have access to the same information given to the patient. This includes information about treatment, medication and billing records.



Understanding Doctor-Patient Confidentiality Under HIPAA  

When visiting a doctor, you've likely heard of the term “doctor-patient confidentiality.” It’s a promise all doctors make when receiving their medical license. 

This promise, known as the Hippocratic Oath, is about keeping a patient's medical information private. No medical information, including X-rays, scans, exams, or test results, can be shared with a third party without the patient's consent, with few exceptions. 

Though family members mean well, it does not automatically give them access to a loved one's medical information. This is to protect the legal rights of adults to make their own medical decisions and not have family members make the decisions for them unless permission is given, such as when they provide power of attorney

There are some exceptions to doctor-patient confidentiality where doctors must share medical information. We'll discuss this in more detail below. 

Kelly Schulte, a medical scribe trainer and part-time professor at Wright State University, explains:

“HIPAA is a federal law that was created in 1996. The purpose of its creation is to create national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s knowledge.”

The HIPAA was created for doctor-patient confidentiality when disclosing sensitive information, and to ensure businesses and entities who deal with confidential medical information take measures to keep it safe. 

For example, under the HIPAA, hospitals ensure that all Protected Health Information (PHI) is stored, transferred and disposed of safely. This part of the HIPAA has the same intentions as a data privacy act. It's all about protecting the patient's medical information. 


Can Doctors Share Patient Information with Family?

can doctors share patient information with family

While HIPAA was created to ensure doctor-patient confidentiality, doctors are not required to disclose medical information to other people. 

However, there are some instances when doctors can share this information according to the rules and by using their professional judgment. 

Consenting Patient

The simplest reason the HIPAA will allow doctors to share medical information about a loved one with family is if the patient has given consent to share their PHI with family members. 

This consent can be a written form, letter of intent or even verbal. Verbal consent is sometimes allowed, even if it is a simple "ok." Some patients may even list which family members have permission and which don't. Doctors have to respect the consent given with few exceptions. 

The Patient Does Not Object

Another circumstance when doctors can share medical information with family is when the patient does not object to them sharing the information. For example, suppose you are in the hospital, and your loved ones are in the room before the doctor shares your medical information. 

In that case, you will be given an opportunity to object, which the doctor will take as consent not given. This only applies if you are capable of making your own healthcare decisions.  

Emergency Situations

Sometimes, a patient may be unable to make sound decisions because they are unconscious or if there is an emergency. In this case, the doctor will turn to the immediate family. The patient does not need to be present or consent during these cases when the doctor shares medical information with the family. 

What many people do not know is that the HIPAA has a "minimum necessary" disclosure. This means doctors do not have to tell you everything about the patient and their medical information. 

They can tell you what is relevant to the current scenario on a need-to-know basis. During these cases, doctors will use their professional judgment in sharing information. 

A Family Member Holds Medical Power of Attorney

It’s very common for older loved ones to have a family member hold healthcare power of attorney over their medical care. This ensures the patient gets the care they need if they cannot make sound-of-mind decisions. 

Family members who have this authorization are required to have the same access to information as the patient themselves.

Using a platform like Trustworthy is a must-have resource if you have power of attorney for a loved one. Trustworthy is a family operating system that you can use to keep all your documents stored safely and organized. 

Danger to Others 

Doctors can share medical information about a patient with other healthcare providers and family without consent from the patient if there is a risk to others. This includes conditions like COVID-19, HIV, infections, Tuberculosis and Syphilis. 

While doctor confidentiality protects the patient’s privacy, this does not apply should the information cause harm to others. 

In fact, the majority of states have introduced a "duty to warn" clause where healthcare providers must warn a person should a patient disclose information that may harm that person.

Law Requirement 

Sometimes, the law requires doctors to share medical information without patient consent. Some of these examples include lawsuits where the court has requested the medical information of a defendant. 

For instance, patients who suffer from a condition that makes them a danger on the road have to be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles.   


What Happens If an Older Parent Doesn't Want the Doctor to Talk to You? 

older parent doesn't want the doctor to talk to you

This is, unfortunately, a common scenario many people often face. Their older parent gets sick and won't let them know what's happening. In some cases, the older parent may ask the doctor not to share this information with family members. Even though it’s frustrating, it’s within their rights to do so. 

If your parent has explicitly objected to you having access to their medical information, there is little you can do about it. There are some exceptions, of course. If you have power of attorney over your parent's medical care, the doctor must legally share the medical information with you.

Sometimes, with conditions like Dementia or Alzheimer's, elderly patients can become difficult or make decisions they don't understand, like telling their doctor not to share information with you. If the patient is no longer capable of making sound medical decisions about their health, the doctor can talk to you without the consent of your older parent. 

If your older parent needs urgent care due to an emergency, doctors can share medical information about them without their consent. The information shared will only be necessary for the current case and in the patient's best interest. 

In the event that the patient is not of sound mind to make decisions, the doctor will use their professional judgment in choosing which information to disclose with you.  


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can doctors disclose information to your parents?

Yes, if you are under the age of 18, you are still a minor, according to the HIPAA. Your parents are entitled to know your personal health information because they are your personal representatives. In some cases, after 13, certain information becomes confidential.

Can HIPAA information about a patient be shared?

HIPAA information, also known as PHI (Personal Health information), can only be shared with other doctors or family members if consent is given, during emergencies, if the patient is dangerous to others, the law requires it, or if there is a medical power of attorney. 

Does power of attorney override HIPAA? 

Having power of attorney means you can access HIPAA-protected medical information and make medical decisions about an individual if given authorization. 

Information Management

Doctors & Family: What Patient Information Can They Share?

Joel Lim

|

January 5, 2024

Trustworthy is an intelligent digital vault that protects and optimizes your family's information so that you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind.

When you go to the doctor, you can rest assured your personal information is safe. It's because of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, which was created to protect your confidential medical information. 

However, what happens if a family member, especially an older loved one, is unable to share important medical information with you? To help you navigate the confusing world of HIPAA rules, we put together a practical guide on what patient information doctors can share with family members.  


Key Takeaways 

  • The HIPAA ensures that medical information is not shared with a third party without the patient's consent.


  • Doctors can share patient information with family if there is consent, the patient does not object, during emergencies, if others are in danger, or if the law requires the information. 


  • Doctors can only share relevant and necessary information for the current case. 


What Patient Info Can Doctors Share?

what patient info can doctors share

Unless the patient has given the doctor specific instructions on what information can be shared, they will generally follow the "minimum necessary" disclosure. This means they won't disclose a patient's entire medical history but rather just provide medical information that’s absolutely necessary to the current case. 

During emergencies, doctors can share information with family if the patient is unable to make their own decisions. For example, doctors can share prescribed medication and instructions on dosage and how to take it. 

They can share medical information that’s in the patient's best interests. This includes information on what to avoid or what type of care they will need to improve their condition. 

However, if a loved one has healthcare power of attorney, they have access to the same information given to the patient. This includes information about treatment, medication and billing records.



Understanding Doctor-Patient Confidentiality Under HIPAA  

When visiting a doctor, you've likely heard of the term “doctor-patient confidentiality.” It’s a promise all doctors make when receiving their medical license. 

This promise, known as the Hippocratic Oath, is about keeping a patient's medical information private. No medical information, including X-rays, scans, exams, or test results, can be shared with a third party without the patient's consent, with few exceptions. 

Though family members mean well, it does not automatically give them access to a loved one's medical information. This is to protect the legal rights of adults to make their own medical decisions and not have family members make the decisions for them unless permission is given, such as when they provide power of attorney

There are some exceptions to doctor-patient confidentiality where doctors must share medical information. We'll discuss this in more detail below. 

Kelly Schulte, a medical scribe trainer and part-time professor at Wright State University, explains:

“HIPAA is a federal law that was created in 1996. The purpose of its creation is to create national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s knowledge.”

The HIPAA was created for doctor-patient confidentiality when disclosing sensitive information, and to ensure businesses and entities who deal with confidential medical information take measures to keep it safe. 

For example, under the HIPAA, hospitals ensure that all Protected Health Information (PHI) is stored, transferred and disposed of safely. This part of the HIPAA has the same intentions as a data privacy act. It's all about protecting the patient's medical information. 


Can Doctors Share Patient Information with Family?

can doctors share patient information with family

While HIPAA was created to ensure doctor-patient confidentiality, doctors are not required to disclose medical information to other people. 

However, there are some instances when doctors can share this information according to the rules and by using their professional judgment. 

Consenting Patient

The simplest reason the HIPAA will allow doctors to share medical information about a loved one with family is if the patient has given consent to share their PHI with family members. 

This consent can be a written form, letter of intent or even verbal. Verbal consent is sometimes allowed, even if it is a simple "ok." Some patients may even list which family members have permission and which don't. Doctors have to respect the consent given with few exceptions. 

The Patient Does Not Object

Another circumstance when doctors can share medical information with family is when the patient does not object to them sharing the information. For example, suppose you are in the hospital, and your loved ones are in the room before the doctor shares your medical information. 

In that case, you will be given an opportunity to object, which the doctor will take as consent not given. This only applies if you are capable of making your own healthcare decisions.  

Emergency Situations

Sometimes, a patient may be unable to make sound decisions because they are unconscious or if there is an emergency. In this case, the doctor will turn to the immediate family. The patient does not need to be present or consent during these cases when the doctor shares medical information with the family. 

What many people do not know is that the HIPAA has a "minimum necessary" disclosure. This means doctors do not have to tell you everything about the patient and their medical information. 

They can tell you what is relevant to the current scenario on a need-to-know basis. During these cases, doctors will use their professional judgment in sharing information. 

A Family Member Holds Medical Power of Attorney

It’s very common for older loved ones to have a family member hold healthcare power of attorney over their medical care. This ensures the patient gets the care they need if they cannot make sound-of-mind decisions. 

Family members who have this authorization are required to have the same access to information as the patient themselves.

Using a platform like Trustworthy is a must-have resource if you have power of attorney for a loved one. Trustworthy is a family operating system that you can use to keep all your documents stored safely and organized. 

Danger to Others 

Doctors can share medical information about a patient with other healthcare providers and family without consent from the patient if there is a risk to others. This includes conditions like COVID-19, HIV, infections, Tuberculosis and Syphilis. 

While doctor confidentiality protects the patient’s privacy, this does not apply should the information cause harm to others. 

In fact, the majority of states have introduced a "duty to warn" clause where healthcare providers must warn a person should a patient disclose information that may harm that person.

Law Requirement 

Sometimes, the law requires doctors to share medical information without patient consent. Some of these examples include lawsuits where the court has requested the medical information of a defendant. 

For instance, patients who suffer from a condition that makes them a danger on the road have to be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles.   


What Happens If an Older Parent Doesn't Want the Doctor to Talk to You? 

older parent doesn't want the doctor to talk to you

This is, unfortunately, a common scenario many people often face. Their older parent gets sick and won't let them know what's happening. In some cases, the older parent may ask the doctor not to share this information with family members. Even though it’s frustrating, it’s within their rights to do so. 

If your parent has explicitly objected to you having access to their medical information, there is little you can do about it. There are some exceptions, of course. If you have power of attorney over your parent's medical care, the doctor must legally share the medical information with you.

Sometimes, with conditions like Dementia or Alzheimer's, elderly patients can become difficult or make decisions they don't understand, like telling their doctor not to share information with you. If the patient is no longer capable of making sound medical decisions about their health, the doctor can talk to you without the consent of your older parent. 

If your older parent needs urgent care due to an emergency, doctors can share medical information about them without their consent. The information shared will only be necessary for the current case and in the patient's best interest. 

In the event that the patient is not of sound mind to make decisions, the doctor will use their professional judgment in choosing which information to disclose with you.  


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can doctors disclose information to your parents?

Yes, if you are under the age of 18, you are still a minor, according to the HIPAA. Your parents are entitled to know your personal health information because they are your personal representatives. In some cases, after 13, certain information becomes confidential.

Can HIPAA information about a patient be shared?

HIPAA information, also known as PHI (Personal Health information), can only be shared with other doctors or family members if consent is given, during emergencies, if the patient is dangerous to others, the law requires it, or if there is a medical power of attorney. 

Does power of attorney override HIPAA? 

Having power of attorney means you can access HIPAA-protected medical information and make medical decisions about an individual if given authorization. 

Information Management

Doctors & Family: What Patient Information Can They Share?

Joel Lim

|

January 5, 2024

Trustworthy is an intelligent digital vault that protects and optimizes your family's information so that you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind.

patient information doctor can share

The intelligent digital vault for families

Trustworthy protects and optimizes important family information so you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind

When you go to the doctor, you can rest assured your personal information is safe. It's because of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, which was created to protect your confidential medical information. 

However, what happens if a family member, especially an older loved one, is unable to share important medical information with you? To help you navigate the confusing world of HIPAA rules, we put together a practical guide on what patient information doctors can share with family members.  


Key Takeaways 

  • The HIPAA ensures that medical information is not shared with a third party without the patient's consent.


  • Doctors can share patient information with family if there is consent, the patient does not object, during emergencies, if others are in danger, or if the law requires the information. 


  • Doctors can only share relevant and necessary information for the current case. 


What Patient Info Can Doctors Share?

what patient info can doctors share

Unless the patient has given the doctor specific instructions on what information can be shared, they will generally follow the "minimum necessary" disclosure. This means they won't disclose a patient's entire medical history but rather just provide medical information that’s absolutely necessary to the current case. 

During emergencies, doctors can share information with family if the patient is unable to make their own decisions. For example, doctors can share prescribed medication and instructions on dosage and how to take it. 

They can share medical information that’s in the patient's best interests. This includes information on what to avoid or what type of care they will need to improve their condition. 

However, if a loved one has healthcare power of attorney, they have access to the same information given to the patient. This includes information about treatment, medication and billing records.



Understanding Doctor-Patient Confidentiality Under HIPAA  

When visiting a doctor, you've likely heard of the term “doctor-patient confidentiality.” It’s a promise all doctors make when receiving their medical license. 

This promise, known as the Hippocratic Oath, is about keeping a patient's medical information private. No medical information, including X-rays, scans, exams, or test results, can be shared with a third party without the patient's consent, with few exceptions. 

Though family members mean well, it does not automatically give them access to a loved one's medical information. This is to protect the legal rights of adults to make their own medical decisions and not have family members make the decisions for them unless permission is given, such as when they provide power of attorney

There are some exceptions to doctor-patient confidentiality where doctors must share medical information. We'll discuss this in more detail below. 

Kelly Schulte, a medical scribe trainer and part-time professor at Wright State University, explains:

“HIPAA is a federal law that was created in 1996. The purpose of its creation is to create national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s knowledge.”

The HIPAA was created for doctor-patient confidentiality when disclosing sensitive information, and to ensure businesses and entities who deal with confidential medical information take measures to keep it safe. 

For example, under the HIPAA, hospitals ensure that all Protected Health Information (PHI) is stored, transferred and disposed of safely. This part of the HIPAA has the same intentions as a data privacy act. It's all about protecting the patient's medical information. 


Can Doctors Share Patient Information with Family?

can doctors share patient information with family

While HIPAA was created to ensure doctor-patient confidentiality, doctors are not required to disclose medical information to other people. 

However, there are some instances when doctors can share this information according to the rules and by using their professional judgment. 

Consenting Patient

The simplest reason the HIPAA will allow doctors to share medical information about a loved one with family is if the patient has given consent to share their PHI with family members. 

This consent can be a written form, letter of intent or even verbal. Verbal consent is sometimes allowed, even if it is a simple "ok." Some patients may even list which family members have permission and which don't. Doctors have to respect the consent given with few exceptions. 

The Patient Does Not Object

Another circumstance when doctors can share medical information with family is when the patient does not object to them sharing the information. For example, suppose you are in the hospital, and your loved ones are in the room before the doctor shares your medical information. 

In that case, you will be given an opportunity to object, which the doctor will take as consent not given. This only applies if you are capable of making your own healthcare decisions.  

Emergency Situations

Sometimes, a patient may be unable to make sound decisions because they are unconscious or if there is an emergency. In this case, the doctor will turn to the immediate family. The patient does not need to be present or consent during these cases when the doctor shares medical information with the family. 

What many people do not know is that the HIPAA has a "minimum necessary" disclosure. This means doctors do not have to tell you everything about the patient and their medical information. 

They can tell you what is relevant to the current scenario on a need-to-know basis. During these cases, doctors will use their professional judgment in sharing information. 

A Family Member Holds Medical Power of Attorney

It’s very common for older loved ones to have a family member hold healthcare power of attorney over their medical care. This ensures the patient gets the care they need if they cannot make sound-of-mind decisions. 

Family members who have this authorization are required to have the same access to information as the patient themselves.

Using a platform like Trustworthy is a must-have resource if you have power of attorney for a loved one. Trustworthy is a family operating system that you can use to keep all your documents stored safely and organized. 

Danger to Others 

Doctors can share medical information about a patient with other healthcare providers and family without consent from the patient if there is a risk to others. This includes conditions like COVID-19, HIV, infections, Tuberculosis and Syphilis. 

While doctor confidentiality protects the patient’s privacy, this does not apply should the information cause harm to others. 

In fact, the majority of states have introduced a "duty to warn" clause where healthcare providers must warn a person should a patient disclose information that may harm that person.

Law Requirement 

Sometimes, the law requires doctors to share medical information without patient consent. Some of these examples include lawsuits where the court has requested the medical information of a defendant. 

For instance, patients who suffer from a condition that makes them a danger on the road have to be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles.   


What Happens If an Older Parent Doesn't Want the Doctor to Talk to You? 

older parent doesn't want the doctor to talk to you

This is, unfortunately, a common scenario many people often face. Their older parent gets sick and won't let them know what's happening. In some cases, the older parent may ask the doctor not to share this information with family members. Even though it’s frustrating, it’s within their rights to do so. 

If your parent has explicitly objected to you having access to their medical information, there is little you can do about it. There are some exceptions, of course. If you have power of attorney over your parent's medical care, the doctor must legally share the medical information with you.

Sometimes, with conditions like Dementia or Alzheimer's, elderly patients can become difficult or make decisions they don't understand, like telling their doctor not to share information with you. If the patient is no longer capable of making sound medical decisions about their health, the doctor can talk to you without the consent of your older parent. 

If your older parent needs urgent care due to an emergency, doctors can share medical information about them without their consent. The information shared will only be necessary for the current case and in the patient's best interest. 

In the event that the patient is not of sound mind to make decisions, the doctor will use their professional judgment in choosing which information to disclose with you.  


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can doctors disclose information to your parents?

Yes, if you are under the age of 18, you are still a minor, according to the HIPAA. Your parents are entitled to know your personal health information because they are your personal representatives. In some cases, after 13, certain information becomes confidential.

Can HIPAA information about a patient be shared?

HIPAA information, also known as PHI (Personal Health information), can only be shared with other doctors or family members if consent is given, during emergencies, if the patient is dangerous to others, the law requires it, or if there is a medical power of attorney. 

Does power of attorney override HIPAA? 

Having power of attorney means you can access HIPAA-protected medical information and make medical decisions about an individual if given authorization. 

Information Management

Doctors & Family: What Patient Information Can They Share?

Joel Lim

|

January 5, 2024

Trustworthy is an intelligent digital vault that protects and optimizes your family's information so that you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind.

patient information doctor can share

The intelligent digital vault for families

Trustworthy protects and optimizes important family information so you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind

When you go to the doctor, you can rest assured your personal information is safe. It's because of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, which was created to protect your confidential medical information. 

However, what happens if a family member, especially an older loved one, is unable to share important medical information with you? To help you navigate the confusing world of HIPAA rules, we put together a practical guide on what patient information doctors can share with family members.  


Key Takeaways 

  • The HIPAA ensures that medical information is not shared with a third party without the patient's consent.


  • Doctors can share patient information with family if there is consent, the patient does not object, during emergencies, if others are in danger, or if the law requires the information. 


  • Doctors can only share relevant and necessary information for the current case. 


What Patient Info Can Doctors Share?

what patient info can doctors share

Unless the patient has given the doctor specific instructions on what information can be shared, they will generally follow the "minimum necessary" disclosure. This means they won't disclose a patient's entire medical history but rather just provide medical information that’s absolutely necessary to the current case. 

During emergencies, doctors can share information with family if the patient is unable to make their own decisions. For example, doctors can share prescribed medication and instructions on dosage and how to take it. 

They can share medical information that’s in the patient's best interests. This includes information on what to avoid or what type of care they will need to improve their condition. 

However, if a loved one has healthcare power of attorney, they have access to the same information given to the patient. This includes information about treatment, medication and billing records.



Understanding Doctor-Patient Confidentiality Under HIPAA  

When visiting a doctor, you've likely heard of the term “doctor-patient confidentiality.” It’s a promise all doctors make when receiving their medical license. 

This promise, known as the Hippocratic Oath, is about keeping a patient's medical information private. No medical information, including X-rays, scans, exams, or test results, can be shared with a third party without the patient's consent, with few exceptions. 

Though family members mean well, it does not automatically give them access to a loved one's medical information. This is to protect the legal rights of adults to make their own medical decisions and not have family members make the decisions for them unless permission is given, such as when they provide power of attorney

There are some exceptions to doctor-patient confidentiality where doctors must share medical information. We'll discuss this in more detail below. 

Kelly Schulte, a medical scribe trainer and part-time professor at Wright State University, explains:

“HIPAA is a federal law that was created in 1996. The purpose of its creation is to create national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s knowledge.”

The HIPAA was created for doctor-patient confidentiality when disclosing sensitive information, and to ensure businesses and entities who deal with confidential medical information take measures to keep it safe. 

For example, under the HIPAA, hospitals ensure that all Protected Health Information (PHI) is stored, transferred and disposed of safely. This part of the HIPAA has the same intentions as a data privacy act. It's all about protecting the patient's medical information. 


Can Doctors Share Patient Information with Family?

can doctors share patient information with family

While HIPAA was created to ensure doctor-patient confidentiality, doctors are not required to disclose medical information to other people. 

However, there are some instances when doctors can share this information according to the rules and by using their professional judgment. 

Consenting Patient

The simplest reason the HIPAA will allow doctors to share medical information about a loved one with family is if the patient has given consent to share their PHI with family members. 

This consent can be a written form, letter of intent or even verbal. Verbal consent is sometimes allowed, even if it is a simple "ok." Some patients may even list which family members have permission and which don't. Doctors have to respect the consent given with few exceptions. 

The Patient Does Not Object

Another circumstance when doctors can share medical information with family is when the patient does not object to them sharing the information. For example, suppose you are in the hospital, and your loved ones are in the room before the doctor shares your medical information. 

In that case, you will be given an opportunity to object, which the doctor will take as consent not given. This only applies if you are capable of making your own healthcare decisions.  

Emergency Situations

Sometimes, a patient may be unable to make sound decisions because they are unconscious or if there is an emergency. In this case, the doctor will turn to the immediate family. The patient does not need to be present or consent during these cases when the doctor shares medical information with the family. 

What many people do not know is that the HIPAA has a "minimum necessary" disclosure. This means doctors do not have to tell you everything about the patient and their medical information. 

They can tell you what is relevant to the current scenario on a need-to-know basis. During these cases, doctors will use their professional judgment in sharing information. 

A Family Member Holds Medical Power of Attorney

It’s very common for older loved ones to have a family member hold healthcare power of attorney over their medical care. This ensures the patient gets the care they need if they cannot make sound-of-mind decisions. 

Family members who have this authorization are required to have the same access to information as the patient themselves.

Using a platform like Trustworthy is a must-have resource if you have power of attorney for a loved one. Trustworthy is a family operating system that you can use to keep all your documents stored safely and organized. 

Danger to Others 

Doctors can share medical information about a patient with other healthcare providers and family without consent from the patient if there is a risk to others. This includes conditions like COVID-19, HIV, infections, Tuberculosis and Syphilis. 

While doctor confidentiality protects the patient’s privacy, this does not apply should the information cause harm to others. 

In fact, the majority of states have introduced a "duty to warn" clause where healthcare providers must warn a person should a patient disclose information that may harm that person.

Law Requirement 

Sometimes, the law requires doctors to share medical information without patient consent. Some of these examples include lawsuits where the court has requested the medical information of a defendant. 

For instance, patients who suffer from a condition that makes them a danger on the road have to be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles.   


What Happens If an Older Parent Doesn't Want the Doctor to Talk to You? 

older parent doesn't want the doctor to talk to you

This is, unfortunately, a common scenario many people often face. Their older parent gets sick and won't let them know what's happening. In some cases, the older parent may ask the doctor not to share this information with family members. Even though it’s frustrating, it’s within their rights to do so. 

If your parent has explicitly objected to you having access to their medical information, there is little you can do about it. There are some exceptions, of course. If you have power of attorney over your parent's medical care, the doctor must legally share the medical information with you.

Sometimes, with conditions like Dementia or Alzheimer's, elderly patients can become difficult or make decisions they don't understand, like telling their doctor not to share information with you. If the patient is no longer capable of making sound medical decisions about their health, the doctor can talk to you without the consent of your older parent. 

If your older parent needs urgent care due to an emergency, doctors can share medical information about them without their consent. The information shared will only be necessary for the current case and in the patient's best interest. 

In the event that the patient is not of sound mind to make decisions, the doctor will use their professional judgment in choosing which information to disclose with you.  


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can doctors disclose information to your parents?

Yes, if you are under the age of 18, you are still a minor, according to the HIPAA. Your parents are entitled to know your personal health information because they are your personal representatives. In some cases, after 13, certain information becomes confidential.

Can HIPAA information about a patient be shared?

HIPAA information, also known as PHI (Personal Health information), can only be shared with other doctors or family members if consent is given, during emergencies, if the patient is dangerous to others, the law requires it, or if there is a medical power of attorney. 

Does power of attorney override HIPAA? 

Having power of attorney means you can access HIPAA-protected medical information and make medical decisions about an individual if given authorization. 

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