Unintended Consequences of HIPAA
I went to visit friends in their retirement home last week and found them puzzled and at a loss. Their neighbor across the hall, with whom they shared every meal and visited frequently, had suddenly become ill and no one could tell them, or any of her friends, what was happening with her.
Because of HIPAA restrictions, their facility couldn’t tell anyone how she is, if she needs anything, and no one is allowed to visit because no permission had been given to communicate with anyone outside of the family – a young couple who don’t live nearby and rarely ever visit her.
Perhaps this is as their friend wishes, but she may well be just beyond the door hoping some of her friends would call, have a card delivered or just sit with her for a while. She may now be feeling abandoned at a time when small acts of friendship and kindness would help the most.
We encourage everyone to fill out and describe their wishes in as much detail as possible so that you receive just the amount of care and connection you want. Our workbook “Put Life In Order, Put Worry Away” has several sections that give voice to what you want, when you can’t speak for yourself. Don’t let a regulation keep you from being supported by the friends who mean so much to you.