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If I am unconscious or not around, can my health care provider still share or discuss my health information with my family, friends, or others involved in my care or payment for my care?

Answer:

Yes.  If you are not around or cannot give permission, your health care provider may share or discuss your health information with family, friends, or others involved in your care or payment for your care if he or she believes, in his or her professional judgment, that it is in your best interest.  When someone other than a friend or family member is asking about you, your health care provider must be reasonably sure that you asked the person to be involved in your care or payment for your care.  Your health care provider may share your information face to face, over the phone, or in writing, but may only share the information that the family member, friend, or other person needs to know about your care or payment for your care. 

Here are some examples:

  • A surgeon who did emergency surgery on you may tell your spouse about your condition, either in person or by phone, while you are unconscious.
  • A pharmacist may give your prescription to a friend you send to pick it up.
  • A doctor may discuss your drugs with your caregiver who calls your doctor with a question about the right dosage.

BUT:

  • A nurse may not tell your friend about a past medical problem that is unrelated to your current condition.

 

Created 9/16/08