Who Has Access to Patient Information?
The friends and family members of the patient should also be included in the policy. Who can your practice release medical records to? Who can you discuss medications, treatment options and payment with? Allowing the patient to clarify this from their first interaction with your office can prevent problems down the road.
When Can the Practitioner Use Their Judgement About Sharing Information?
In certain circumstances, it may be in the best interest of the patient if the psychiatrist or physician can discuss the patient’s condition with family members, even if they haven’t been expressly allowed to do so. HIPAA allows this when the patient is unable to consent or disagree, if, for instance, they are suffering a temporary psychosis or are heavily impaired by drugs or alcohol.
What About Minors?
Patient confidentiality can get a little tricky when it comes to minors in behavioral health, because the patient and their parent may not agree on just how much information should be shared. In general, a practitioner should only need to discuss the minor patient’s care with their parents regarding payment, medications and specific ways that the parent can help the patient at home—if the parents know about the treatment at all. Psychotherapy should remain private.