Imagine you are sitting at home one relaxing evening and the phone rings. On the other end is your son’s college roommate informing you that your son was just taken to the hospital and is very ill. Your immediate reaction is to get to the hospital as soon as possible, the problem is your son is away at college over 3,000 miles away. Your second reaction is to call the hospital to find out exactly what is happening, the prognosis and the treatment plan. You call the hospital and are told that all access to the patient’s medical records are denied (YES, even though you are his mother).
This exact scenario happened to a client and is happening more frequently as hospitals and medical facilities interpret the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) more stringently. The Act was initially designed to prevent insurance companies from having access without your prior consent. The Act has been implemented to prevent ALL access to your medical records without your prior consent. This implementation has led to scenarios like my client faced because her son was over the age of eighteen and did not have a HIPAA Waiver already executed.
Needless to say, when the son returned home for the holidays, we prepared a packet of documents which are necessary in the unforeseen event of disability and illness. The packet includes a Durable Power of Attorney For Financial Affairs, an Advanced Health Care Directive, and a HIPAA Waiver. Each of these documents account for different aspects of his daily life and allow him to predesignate an agent (and alternates) to manage those aspects at such time when he is unable.