Physician Practice

Q&A: Can a physician discuss the healthcare of an adult child with a parent?

Physician Practice Insider, April 21, 2015

Q: A patient recently informed me that she was surprised to learn from a physician at our facility that her adult child had been prescribed blood pressure medication. Is it a HIPAA violation for providers to discuss the care of adult children with parents? Would it be considered a violation if the child was a minor?

A: Yes, it is a violation for a practitioner to share information about one patient with another without permission, even if the patients are related. The only exception would be if the mother is providing care to the adult child. In that case, it would be acceptable for the provider to share only the information necessary for the mother to provide care.

In most cases, it is acceptable and even required that practitioners share information with the parent(s) of minors. Exceptions to this might be information on mental health information, substance abuse treatment, sexually transmitted disease treatment, etc. Check your state statutes for specifics.

Editor’s note: Chris Simons, MS, RHIA, director of health information and privacy officer at Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock in Keene, New Hampshire, originally answered this question in Medical Records Briefing.

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