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Medical privacy issue


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This does not concern debt or credit issues, but I know there are some posters here who have knowledge of medical privacy issues, so I would like their input.  @Clydesmom, I would especially value yours.

I have a relative who is elderly, but of sound mind, lives independently, and is quite capable of managing her own affairs.  Recently she had a doctor's appointment, a routine checkup.  While there, she asked the office staff to mail her the results of her blood tests.  (She does not have a computer or email.)

However, her daughter-in-law, who has no medical expertise, and who does not have a health care power of attorney regarding her MIL, called the doctor's office and asked them to email the test results to her, instead.  Which they did, without consulting the patient.  My relative, the patient, is very unhappy about this.  And it's not the first time this has happened.

(Why not ask the daughter-in-law to print out the test results and give them to her MIL?  Apparently she won't do that, and simply told her MIL things like "Your cholesterol's high."  My relative wants to see the actual numbers.)

So, is what the doctor's office did a violation of medical privacy?  HIPPA?  A violation of doctor/patient confidentially?

What recourse does she have?  She likes her doctor, and doesn't want to change that.  I doubt that she can control her DIL's behavior.  But she should be able to control what the doctor's office does with her medical information, IMO.

Should she send a written, signed statement to the doctor stating she does not consent to any sharing of her medical information with other parties?  Should it be notarized?  Should she have an attorney send a letter?

Thank you in advance for your help.


 

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38 minutes ago, nobk4me said:

 @Clydesmom, I would especially value yours.

Why thank you.  I am flattered.

38 minutes ago, nobk4me said:

So, is what the doctor's office did a violation of medical privacy?  HIPPA?  A violation of doctor/patient confidentially?

MAYBE.  Patients fill out a LOT of paperwork and repeat some of it annually.  The first thing to do is find out if relative (R) placed DIL's name as a point of contact or emergency contact.  If the forms authorize DIL to get information then it isn't a violation.  From here lets go with the hypothesis that (R) never authorized DIL to receive any information.  Under that hypothesis YES it is a huge violation of privacy, confidentiality and HIPAA.  The one issue is that this is not the first time it has happened by (R) hasn't complained to the office in the past about it.  (or has she)

38 minutes ago, nobk4me said:

What recourse does she have?  

LOTS.  Send a certified letter return receipt so there is proof of delivery stating that somehow DIL has been getting confidential patient information for myself [name/dob] I do not recall giving permission for this.  If such permission was granted in the past it is now permanently revoked and no further information or records are to be shared with DIL [name].  The letter should be addressed to the physician and his/her office manager.  DO NOT make accusations just revoke consent.  I personally would go so far as to say "I am very happy with my care and the wonderful staff but unhappy with DIL [name] over stepping her bounds and diverting information I requested from the office and refusing to give it directly to me.  I will address this separately with her and my son."   If they violate again THEN a complaint can be make to the Department of Health and Human Services for the HIPAA violation.  

38 minutes ago, nobk4me said:

I doubt that she can control her DIL's behavior.

Should she send a written, signed statement to the doctor stating she does not consent to any sharing of her medical information with other parties?

In this case she sure can.  Usually when there is an issue it is a MIL over stepping boundaries and trampling on the wife of her "baby boy" causing problems.  A DIL doing this is a rarity.  First thing (R) needs to do is have a candid talk with her son.  Even though the roles are reversed it is HIS job to control his wife in this instance.  Mom needs to explain to him that she is WAY over stepping her bounds.  You have revoked consent in writing to the doctor's office and any further confidentiality breaches will be met with formal complaint(s) to the proper authorities.  ALL records DIL currently has are to be turned over to MIL immediately and the behavior is to cease and desist. Be very clear that DIL was never asked to do the things she has, she has no training or expertise to interpret Mom's medical information and that is best left to Mom and her physician/team.  Now, Mom can sugar coat all of that if compliance by Son will be easier.  I wouldn't but I am in that cranky no nonsense stage of life.  Do make sure that your relative has a living will and durable medical power of attorney that are to be used ONLY in the event they are incapacitated and cannot make decisions for themselves.  I am sure they don't want their son in the dark if things become critical and they need care.

38 minutes ago, nobk4me said:

Should it be notarized?

The letter revoking consent does not have to be notarized.  In m opinion the medical power of attorney and living will should but legally doesn't have to be to be effective if needed.

38 minutes ago, nobk4me said:

Should she have an attorney send a letter?

If DIL and office violate again:  YES.  Right now getting a lawyer involved will get (R) discharged from care and leave them searching for a new provider and that isn't the goal.

38 minutes ago, nobk4me said:

Thank you in advance for your help.

You are welcome.  :D  If you have more questions come on back.

Edited to add:  Your relative doesn't need to be full "Karen" with the office/doctor.  Direct and to the point will get this fixed.  My educated guess is that someone in the office thinks they are being helpful and because it hasn't been an issue before they keep doing it believing you are authorizing it.  I wouldn't be full "Karen" with son yet but if he doesn't leash the DIL then I would.  Go half "Karen" for now with DIL to get the point across.  :D

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1 hour ago, nobk4me said:

I do think the DIL is listed as an emergency contact. 

Make sure Mom changes that for sure.  The letter still needs to be sent though just to be clear and concise. 

1 hour ago, nobk4me said:

And I don't think the MIL is the problem here.

Nope.  Hope I didn't imply that.

1 hour ago, nobk4me said:

The DIL is simply prone to meddling and being overbearing.

Time for Son to find his cahones and step in.  He needs to have Mom's back.

 

Let me know how it plays out please.  :D
 

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21 hours ago, Clydesmom said:

Let me know how it plays out please. 

So, I called my relative and relayed the info you provided (she is grateful).  She claims she made it clear to her DIL that what she did is unacceptable.  She had put a call into the doctor's office, before I called her, and is waiting for them to call her back.

I don't know how assertive she will be with the doctor's office, nor whether she will put anything in writing.  One thing I have observed about human behavior is, people often gripe about things they dislike, but are often reluctant to take action that would solve the problem.

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