HIPAA is also known as The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. We will look at how HIPAA can and will affect the healthcare, mental health system. We will see what the extra protections are for mental health, whether a health care provider can discuss mental health with adult patient’s family members, what the rules are for minors, and can a parent receive copies of psychotherapy notes on their child’s mental health treatment.
According to the article from the Department of Health and Human Services, HIPAA Privacy Rule provides consumers with the most important privacy rights and protections when it comes to their health information.
Extra Protections for Mental Health Does HIPAA provide extra protections for mental health information compared with other health information? Normally the privacy rules are uniformly generic and apply to protect all health information. There are exceptions for extra protections for mental health records. If the patient seems to be harmful to themselves or others, this can be released to law officials to protect the patient.
Psychotherapy notes are kept separate from all other medical records giving these patient extra protections about the private conversations had with them and the counselor they spoke with. Other than Psychotherapy notes, patient’s information can be requested by the patient or the providers. (Ocr, “2088-Does HIPAA provide extra protections for mental health information compared with other health information?”, 2017)
Is a health care provider permitted to discuss an adult patient’s mental health information with the patient’s parents or other family members? Health care providers are capable of discussing an adult’s patients health with the parents or family members as long as the adult patient does not object, doctors can discuss a patient medication that the patient needs to be taking, they are also able to give warning signs to a spouse so that they are aware of emergency warning signs.
Only a doctor can discuss this information, no nurse or receptionist can discuss any medical information with a family member.
Minor Children and Mental Health. Can a minor child’s doctor talk to the child’s parents about the patient’s mental health status and needs? According to the Department of Health and Human Services, parents are acting representatives for minor children and doctors and discuss information about a minor children with the expectation of a few rules when A parent is not treated as a minor child’s representative, 1) when state law does not need, 2) someone other than the parent is authorized, 3) parent agrees to a confidential relationship between the minor and health care provider. The other way that a doctor cannot discuss the minor child’s condition is if the parent is being treated for mental health issues. (Ocr, “2092-Can a minor child’s doctor talk to the child’s parent about the patient’s mental health status and needs?”, 2017)
Psychotherapy Notes. Does a parent have a right to receive a copy of psychotherapy notes about a child’s mental health treatment? The answer to this is very simple and is no and always will be NO you cannot attain psychotherapy notes, however, if it’s in a medical record and it’s about the diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment plans the parent can get those records but the psychotherapy notes are normally used for the provider to give treatment for the patient. You should always consult with the state that you live to make sure that the laws are being followed correctly for your state. Doctor notification of overdose. When does HIPAA allow a doctor to notify an individual’s family, friends, or caregivers that a patient has overdosed, e.g., because of opioid abuse? There are 6 explanations for when a doctor might release information to a family member or caregiver. When the patient can make health care decisions but does not object?
When the family member or caregiver has been involved with the patient’s health care. The patient could make health care decisions when the information was shared, and the doctor can reasonably infer. The patient is incapacitated, and the health care doctor determines, based on a professional judgment it is in the patient’s best interest. When necessary to prevent a serious and imminent threat to the health of patient of one around the patient. If the patients are unable to make their decision doctors will always use correct judgment and do what is best for the patient.
Ocr. (2017, October 16). 2088-Does HIPAA provide extra protections for mental health information compared with other health information? Retrieved from Ocr. (2017, October 16). 2092-Can a minor child’s doctor talk to the child’s parent about the patient’s mental health status and needs? Retrieved from
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