The HIPAA medical records confidentiality law went into effect in 2003. It provides that anyone having medical information about you may not share it with anyone absent a written waiver.
Doctors and hospitals, with justification, have interpreted this to mean that they cannot even speak to family members unless there is a written authorization. Spouses, parents of young adults, siblings, and children of aging parents have experienced not being able to obtain medical information concerning their family members and loved ones.
The solution is a properly drafted Health Care Power of Attorney with a specific waiver of the HIPAA restrictions. Signing a HIPAA waiver form at your doctor’s office is not enough to protect you and your family.