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Family Members and Friends

This is HIPAA information regarding disclosures to family and friends.

Final

Issued by: Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

Family Members and Friends

YouTube embedded video: HHS OCR - Communicating with Family, Friends, and Others Involved in Your Care

The Privacy Rule does not require a health care provider or health plan to share information with your family or friends, unless they are your personal representatives.  

However, the provider or plan can share your information with family or friends if: 

  • They are involved in your health care or payment for your health care, 

  • You tell the provider or plan that it can do so, 

  • You do not object to sharing of the information, or 

  • If, using its professional judgment, a provider or plan believes that you do not object. 

Examples

  • If you do not object, your doctor could talk with the friend who goes with you to the hospital or with a family member who pays your medical bill.  

  • If you send your friend to pick up your prescription for you, the pharmacist can assume that you do not object to their being given the medication.   

  • When you are not there or when you are injured and cannot give your permission, a provider may share information with these people if it seems like this would be in your best interest. 

See 45 C.F.R. §§ 164.502(g) and 164.510(b), and OCR's Frequently Asked Questions. 

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DISCLAIMER: The contents of this database lack the force and effect of law, except as authorized by law (including Medicare Advantage Rate Announcements and Advance Notices) or as specifically incorporated into a contract. The Department may not cite, use, or rely on any guidance that is not posted on the guidance repository, except to establish historical facts.