[ Tuesday, July 01, 2003 ]


Here's an interesting article from the Arizona Republic regarding the possible unintended consequences of HIPAA on living trusts. I'm not sure I agree with the thrust of the article (frankly, I'm a little suspicious right off the bat when the first paragraph talks about the regulations Congress enacted earlier this year to regulate medical record privacy; Congress didn't enact them, and they weren't enacted this year, but they do have to do with medical record privacy, so one out of 3 ain't bad). The article implies that individuals who enter into living trusts might be in trouble if they are incapacitated later in life, because the trustees of the trust might not be able to get their health information and therefore might not be able to choose their healthcare. Of course, providers can provide information to individuals involved in the patient's care, and if that person is a legally-appointed guardian, trustee, or attorney-in-fact, HIPAA shouldn't be a bar to the decisionmaker receiving all the PHI necessary to see to it that the patient has good care.

I guess it could happen, but it could happen even with a good Durable Power of Attorney, if the provider was stubborn enough. Not too likely, though. Of course, it goes without saying that you should be pretty careful with those type of documents. And if you do estate planning, you should be certain that you cover the HIPAA angle.

(Thanks to Pamela Jones at MedAbiliti and their Health Innovation Daily headline service)

Jeff [5:28 PM]

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