Health Information Management

Q&A: Patient authorization to release information

HIM-HIPAA Insider, October 20, 2009

Want to receive articles like this one in your inbox? Subscribe to HIM-HIPAA Insider!

Q. A patient whose parents are divorced is admitted to the hospital. Should we require both parents to sign a release of information? What should we do if one parent doesn’t sign it?
A. Divorce law varies by state, so your policy should reflect your state’s statutes and regulations. Generally, most states acknowledge that two individuals are parents regardless of their marital status. Both parents may consent to treatment and obtain copies of records for their minor children. Note that the child’s consent may be required for information pertaining to substance abuse treatment, mental health records, family planning, and sexually transmitted diseases. However, most divorce decrees also require the parties to consult with each other when making medical decisions for their child. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the parties, not the healthcare provider, to keep each other informed. Reminding the parent who presents with the child for care of his or her responsibility to inform the other parent may be appropriate. Be sure to document this conversation. Unless one parent requests that the other not be permitted to participate, most organizations will accept either parent’s signature as sufficient.
Note: Chris Simons, RHIA, director of utilization management HIM and privacy officer at Spring Harbor Hospital in Westbrook, ME, answered this question in the October issue of Medical Records Briefing.

Want to receive articles like this one in your inbox? Subscribe to HIM-HIPAA Insider!

    Briefings on APCs
  • Briefings on APCs

    Worried about the complexities of the new rules under OPPS and APCs? Briefings on APCs helps you understand the new rules...

  • HIM Briefings

    Guiding Health Information Management professionals through the continuously changing field of medical records and toward a...

  • Briefings on Coding Compliance Strategies

    Submitting improper Medicare documentation can lead to denial of fees, payback, fines, and increased diligence from payers...

  • Briefings on HIPAA

    How can you minimize the impact of HIPAA? Subscribe to Briefings on HIPAA, your health information management resource for...

  • APCs Insider

    This HTML-based e-mail newsletter provides weekly tips and advice on the new ambulatory payment classifications regulations...

Most Popular