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What If This Happened To You?

You are in a car accident and you are knocked unconscious. You are taken to the hospital emergency room in Minnesota. Shortly after that, your daughter arrives and asks about your condition and what are your prospects. The nurse looks in your patient file and says to your daughter “I’m sorry but I can’t tell you anything about that person’s condition. I can’t even confirm whether they are here.” That can be a terrible shock to your daughter but the nurse is simply following the law.


What exactly is HIPAA? HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that Congress enacted in 1996.

The law has many parts, but the portion that affects most people has to do with privacy of medical information. In the past there were certainly many instances of abuse of patient’s privacy by medical facilities or insurance companies or creditors.

What the law provides is that a hospital or medical clinic may not share patient medical information with other persons including family members without the written approval of the patient.

The law provides large fines and imprisonment penalties for doctors or nurses who give out patient information without a signed authorization.

As a result, a hospital or clinic must refuse to tell family members what the condition is or prognosis of a loved one unless that care facility has a HIPAA authorization signed by the patient.

How To Get A HIPAA Authorization

For Minnesota residents, the solution is for the patient to have signed a HIPAA authorization while he or she is able to sign papers on his or her own behalf. For that you should contact your attorney or medical clinic to be sure that your loved ones are on a HIPAA authorization to get medical information about you when you are receiving medical treatment.

Bill Peterson is a Minnesota Estate Planning Attorney with over 40 years of experience as a lawyer. He can help you plan for the future by creating a Minnesota Estate Plan. For more information, please visit http://www.mnestateplan.com or call toll free at [952-641-7312.

The contents of this video and article are for information only and are not to be interpreted as legal advice. For personal legal advice you should consult with an attorney who is experienced in probate law or estate planning. The U.S. Treasury Department requires us to advise you that any written tax advice cannot be used and is not intended to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding any penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code. Written advice from our firm relating to any Federal Tax matters may not, without our express written consent, be used in promoting, marketing or recommending any entity, investment plan or arrangement to any taxpayer.