How can I get a free HIPAA release form?

Molly asked...

How can I get a free HIPAA release form for my parents to sign?

Expert Answer

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

Two places: directly from the medical provider or from this website.

Some doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers have their own release forms that they will give patients to complete. These authorize disclosure of all or some types of medical information.

If you have the luxury of planning in advance, contact all the doctors' offices and other medical providers you or the person in your care regularly visits. Find out the procedures they follow and whether they provide a specific form.

If a particular provider doesn't have a form, or you're not able to do this bit of sleuth work in advance, then download and fill out the Free HIPAA Release Form offered on this site.

If you've been trying in vain to find a form to use, you're experiencing a common frustration. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, was passed with the best of intentions: to protect individual patient's medical records from being disclosed willy-nilly to anyone who asks to see their contents.

That law requires doctors and other healthcare providers to get written authorization from a patient before they can share most health information about him or her with a "third party" -- and that includes most caregivers, even those who are close relatives. The frustration comes in when a well-meaning caregiver needs particular information to make a good judgment about what medical care to lobby for or insist upon, but he or she doesn't have the written consent required by HIPAA. To make matters worse, there are no standard consent forms provided -- and precious little comprehensible information about what such forms must include.

Whether you get the written release authorization from the healthcare provider or use the one offered on this site, fill out each form, have the person in your care sign it, and keep two copies -- one for you and one for the person you're caring for. Then return the signed forms to the providers' offices.

Repeat this process every time you or the person in your care is about to enter a hospital or visit a new doctor.