Q&A: Disclosing a minor's PHI to parents

April 13, 2017
Medicare Web

Q: I have a question about providing information to the parents of minor children. The parents of a child at our pediatric clinic are divorced and the child is a beneficiary of one parent’s insurance. That parent wishes to restrict information the other has access to. However, because the parents have joint custody, the child may be brought in by either parent. There appears to be no court order restricting information we share with either custodial parent. Is there anything in HIPAA that could support denying the request or that would require us to comply?

A: HIPAA does not specifically address the rights of divorced parents. Generally, both parents (custodial and non-custodial) have the right to consent to the child’s treatment and obtain PHI unless their parental rights have been severed by a court of law. If one parent asks to restrict the rights of the other parent, ask the requesting parent to provide a copy of a court order or divorce decree to support his/her request.

Editor’s note: This question was answered by Mary D. Brandt, MBA, RHIA, CHE, CHPS. Brandt is a healthcare consultant specializing in healthcare regulatory compliance and operations improvement. This information does not constitute legal advice. Consult legal counsel for answers to specific privacy and security questions. Opinions expressed are that of the author and do not represent HCPro or ACDIS. Email your questions to Editor Nicole Votta at nvotta@hcpro.com.

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