MD/DO/NP: Have You Actually Read A HIPAA Form?

Yesterday, I had a new client which meant I needed to send HIPAA release forms to all involved medical professionals.  Tedious but necessary in order to get medical records or talk to anyone. My forms are standard with all the necessary information mandated by the federal government.  No matter what facility you go to, the release forms have the same language.

One of the people I needed to send a HIPAA form to was the primary care doctor.  She was no longer involved because my client was in a nursing home.  However, I wanted to get some background if possible.  I have learned that just because I send a HIPAA form, doesn’t guarantee a conversation.

Off went the HIPAA to the primary care.  I usual give it 24 hours before I try to call and request a call back.  At 4PM, I checked the fax machine and their was a return fax from the doctor.  She had written on the release stating she didn’t treat for HIV.  Another line was no anxiety and finally an arrow leading a statement never saw alcoholism.  I looked quizzically at the paper.  What was her meaning?

I realized she didn’t know what she was reading as if she had never seen a HIPAA form before.  How could that be?  HIPAA forms are such a part of the medical culture.  Then it dawned on me.  It is a part of the medical culture that only the patient gets to hassle with.  Some Doctors ask for the form but I guess do not bother to read it.

I had to take an inservice when the law was first enacted.  I had to have it explained and actually read it.  I thought everyone did.

Here is the part of the form she wrote on.  If you notice, the second part is a list of specialized information that does not have to be released.  By crossing out any of the areas as stated in the form, the facility will not give that specific information.  It is at the discretion of the patient.

AUTHORIZATION FOR RELEASE OF INFORMATION

I hereby authorize my health plan, my healthcare providers and their applicable business associates to disclose the following Private Health Information (PHI) pertaining to me: enrollment, claims, payments and managed healthcare information to Healthcare Whisperer for the purpose of assisting me in my quest to obtain health care services and/or approval or payment for health care services.

Unless otherwise indicated, my authorization includes the release of the following: (Please strike through those you wish to exclude, if any.)

  • Diagnosis and/or treatment for alcoholism and/or drug abuse or                       dependency
  • Diagnosis and/or treatment regarding mental health issues
  • HIV antibody test results and/or diagnosis and treatment
  • Genetic test results and/or related treatment

My client’s healthcare proxy had not crossed out this area.  People often don’t mark it.  I usually ask after I receive the signed form just to make sure the client approves.

I feel this is a good example of how the medical profession doesn’t understand what patients go through.  Information is so important and crucial for patients and families yet it can be so hard to get when needed.  I do think the doctor was protecting the patient, however, I needed different information.  I already knew the above issues were not relevant.  I thought I needed to send her a short note explaining the HIPAA form.  Still thinking about it.

My advise to the medical profession is take a few minutes and read the forms the patients have to sign.  Understand how confusing and overwhelming just dealing with medical forms can be.