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Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

Can your husband access your medical records under the HIPAA law?


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Answered 2008-08-13 02:45:59

Yes, but only limited information which is absolutely necessary and in under specific circumstances. One instance is if the person/spouse has a communicable disease, another is when the spouse is unable for whatever reason to communicate with medical care providers. If the wife is legally competant, she is entitled to forbid all access to her own PHI to her husband, which she should do specifically. In the case where the wife is not legally competant (which surely doesn't seem likely if she wrote this question), the decision to access her PHI will be controlled and decided by: * Existing proof of a Personal Representitve as defined in HIPAA Privacy Rule section 164.502(g)(2). This is someone the wife chooses or is assigned by the court. * Anyone designated in a Power Of Attorney, Living Will or similar document, wherein the wife specifically allows communication. * Anyone the court designates as Personal Representitive (Ibid). And that's about it. Even in the event of a communicable disease, it is not at all clear that the husband is entitled to break the PHI seal. HIPAA itself is not clear on this point, and no case law exists yet, so the first time this comes to court, it'll be ... interesting. The one exception that comes to mind is, if the husband is the primary on her insurance, he can be presented with a listing of services the Insurance COmpany paid for. However, as the Payer is only entitled to "Minimum Necessary" PHI and is required to pass on only "minimum necessary", they can't really say too much about what happened, and they cannot specifically declare a diagnosis. This can potentially be broken by a Grand Jury subpeona, or by a Court Order, but to my knowledge, no-one's even tried to do this, as the release of PHI is highly unlikely. In summary -- not likely at ALL.

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