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Consumer Reports: Helping your college age child in a medical emergency

October 2, 2017

Consumer Reports: Helping your college age child in a medical emergencyAs a parent, there are few things worse than getting a call saying your young-adult child is being taken to the emergency room. Now imagine getting that call, but the doctors and nurses won’t tell you anything about your child’s condition.

Consumer Reports tells us how privacy laws make that scary scenario very real for some parents. The privacy rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, says that once a child is legally an adult, which in most states is 18 parents have no more right to their child’s medical information than they would to the information of a stranger on the street. It doesn’t even matter whether they are¬†still on your health insurance or if you’re paying the bills.

Health experts at Consumer Reports say that signing a simple document could help smooth things over. You’re basically getting your child to sign the equivalent of a permission slip. Then, if there’s an emergency, it helps eliminate any ambiguity. There isn’t one ‘official’ document called a HIPAA Authorization Form, but there are forms online. The forms specify who can be given the medical information and the type of information that can be shared. Some hospitals and college medical centers have their own forms, so if you know where your child likely gets health care, you might want to reach out to them in advance and ask.

The best thing is for your child to carry the form, tucked into a wallet or a backpack. But during an emergency, a parent forwarding a scanned copy may be enough to persuade a doctor or hospital to release the information.

Article courtesy of David Novarro for