HIPAA Laws and Divorced Parents – Finding the Safest Course
No one wants to find themselves caught in the crossfire between two parents in the middle of a messy divorce. The best way to avoid it is to plan on how to respond before it happens.
The safest course of action is to develop a clear written policy that standardizes how your practice will handle every divorce situation.
This “catch-all” policy might include:
- Have both parents sign HIPAA forms to protect the child’s privacy rights.
- Ask for a copy of the temporary orders if the divorce is pending, or a copy of the court-approved separation agreement if the divorce is final. Check the legal documents to see if it states that the parent has a legal right to the child’s case notes.
- Retain all related HIPAA-compliant releases and requests in the child’s case notes in case there is further litigation.
HIPAA Laws and Divorced Parents – Older Minor Children
Remember that each state has specific rules about at what point a minor child can make certain healthcare decisions for themselves. In those cases, the decision about disclosing this information to a parent, divorced or not, is often left to the provider, if state law is silent on the matter.
Where state law permits a minor child who is legally emancipated, mature, living apart from their parents, pregnant, parents, high school graduates or older than a certain age to give informed consent to medical decisions, the HIPAA privacy rule defers to them.