It’s Time to Start the Conversation Health Care Documents


Health care documents provide important information about your health history. These documents identify the person designated to make decisions for you in the event you’re too ill to do so, and what measures you’d like taken if you’re unable to make decisions due to a medical, mental health, or other issue. It’s tough stuff, but it’s important to empower your loved ones to carry out your wishes.

Medical Record Summary
A list of your health history is invaluable in relaying information quickly to health care professionals. Include your name, birth date, allergies, medications with dosages, physicians’ names, health conditions and detailed emergency contact information.

HIPAA Release of Information
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects patient privacy. HIPAA guidelines also allow you to designate how you would like to share this information with family, friends and designated representatives such as insurance companies. Health care providers and other entities, such as hospitals, provide a notice of privacy practices form and ask patients to sign it, to ensure information is shared appropriately.

HIPAA and Parents of Young Adult Children
When older teen children reach 18, their parents no longer have the right to obtain their medical information or make decisions about the adult child’s care. This applies even if the child is covered by the parents’ insurance.

Therefore, it’s important for parents and a child to have an open conversation about whether or not they’re comfortable signing a HIPAA Release of Information to allow parents to participate in a child’s care. Typically, the form is completed when a child turns 18 years old and does not require notarization. Both the parent and child should keep a copy.

Medical Power of Attorney
A Medical Power of Attorney can also be called Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA). This is a legal document that allows a patient to name someone to make medical decisions on their behalf if they are too ill to decide for themselves, or if they unexpectedly become incapacitated. Having this document in place saves time and prevents confusion at what may be a crucial time.

Durable Power of Attorney
The Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document in which someone designates another person to make legal, financial and health care decisions on their behalf in the event of serious illness, an accident or mental incapacity. If this is not in place, and a patient is unable to make decisions and manage their own affairs, a family must go to court to establish a designee.

Advance Directives
Advance Directives are legal directives which state a person’s wishes for end of life care when they are unable to make their own decisions. Selections can be made to omit or include medical care, such as dialysis, a breathing machine, tube feedings and/or organ donations.

Talk to Your Family and Friends
It is important to start the conversation with your family and friends to make your health care wishes known before a health crisis. It is equally important to complete documents that reduce doubt in your loved ones’ minds and properly guide them in participating in your care.

“Health care records are critical to helping providers deliver patients high quality treatment and a continuum of care consistent with patient wishes,” shares Susan I. Belanger, PhD, MA, RN, NEA-BC, HEC-C and Senior Vice President of Mission Integration and Ethics. “You should also meet with your family, share your feelings and ensure the documentation related to your health care is clear and provided to your physician. You can’t plan everything, but you can ease the burden on your loved ones by telling them what’s most important to you.”

If you like to learn more about getting started, please visit It’s a valuable resource for helping people share their wishes for care through end of life. It is important to note that states may have variations and specific requirements for these documents. Consult an attorney if you have questions.

It’s Time to Complete These Health Care Documents
__Medical Record Summary
___HIPAA Release of Information
­­­___Medical Power of Attorney
___Durable Power of Attorney
___Advance Directives

Keep in mind that copies of these documents should be given to all designated family members and friends. In addition, the location of original copies should be provided to all designees. To obtain more information, talk with you attorney.

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