When HIPAA Works Against You

Several days after we brought my sister to live with us, I had a phone call from her former Primary Care Provider to fill me in on her medical condition and the needed dosages of her prescriptions. But first of all the doctor wanted to thank me for getting my sister away from her daughter. The medical practice suspected abuse but were reluctant to bring in Adult Protective Services because she would have been placed somewhere rather like children put into state guardianship. They had no record of any other family members other than the daughter she was living with! My sister had set it up that way. If they had acted, my sister might have disappeared and I would not have known about it because of her privacy protection rights.
Three years before, I had found out my sister was in the ICU at EMMC only because a friend of hers had found out and called me. When I called the hospital I was told they could not release any information to me about her. Her other daughters had the same result when they called. Only the daughter she was living with was on file and could receive information. Once my sister was moved out of the ICU and into a regular room I could get in to see her. Her daughter thought that not sharing information was a form of power. Mother and daughter had set themselves up as a kind of fortress against the world. It was only after I attained the Durable Power of Attorney that I could break through this privacy barrier.

Harriet Vaughan

About Harriet Vaughan

I am a Senior Move Manager, working with Senior Citizens and their families when it is time to downsize or just make the home safer and more comfortable for aging in place. I help these people make decisions about what to keep, throw out, donate, or sell. I also offer workshops on "Getting Things Done When You Are Over 60". I write about how to overcome memory lapses and how to use your physical energy well. I have a degree in Home Economics from the University of Maine. I live in Coopers Mills, about 14 miles east of Augusta. I have been married for almost 50 years to my husband, Chuck Vaughan. Our business is called Legacy Years Transition Services.