Strategies Family Members Can Use to Communicate with Mental Health Professionals (despite HIPAA)

Prepared by Ingrid Waldron, NAMI PA, Main Line  

 

  • You can provide information to your loved one’s clinician, even when the clinician can’t provide information to you due to HIPAA.1 Be informative, factual and concise. If possible, fax or email information to the provider for accuracy of communication. You may want to keep a document with a running history of your loved one’s mental illness and treatment; you can make periodic additions while your memory is still fresh. Do not expect your loved one’s clinician to help you deal with your upset; support groups (https://namipamainline.org/support/) or your own therapist, friends and family are more appropriate for this purpose. 

 

 

1 “HIPAA in no way prevents health care providers from listening to family members or other caregivers who may have concerns about the health and well-being of the patient, so the health care provider can factor that information into the patient’s care. In the event that the patient later requests access to the health record, any information disclosed to the provider by another person who is not a health care provider that was given under a promise of confidentiality (such as that shared by a concerned family member), may be withheld from the patient if the disclosure would be reasonably likely to reveal the source of the information. 45 CFR 164.524(a)(2)(v). This exception to the patient’s right of access to protected health information gives family members the ability to disclose relevant safety information with health care providers without fear of disrupting the family’s relationship with the patient.” (Pages 5-6 in https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/hipaa-privacy-rule-and-sharing-info-related-to-mental-health.pdf)

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