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Legalease, Lawyer
Category: Legal
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Experience:  15 years exp all aspects of general law
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A doctors office would not allow me to make an appointment

Resolved Question:

A doctor's office would not allow me to make an appointment for my husband, although I have been doing so for years at that same practice and they know both myself and my husband well. They said they would need a letter from him authorising me to do so. Is this really a HIPAA matter?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Legalease replied 7 years ago.
Yes Julie,this is a HIPAA matter, although the doctor's office seems to be going a bit overboard with compliance.

Technically, ANYTHING to do with someone else's medical records is subject to HIPAA, including when & how often that person goes to the doctor. If you call up and ask when his next appointment is (even if you are just innocently trying to figure out his calendar) they can & SHOULD refuse to provide you with that information. Here, your request is a little different, and you have probably been doing this for years, but there have been a rash of recent lawsuits over HIPAA violations in recent years, and doctors offices are now consulting with attorneys on the ins and outs of complying with HIPPA, and making appointments and divulging appointment dates and times falls in this category.

Look at it this way: what if you are going through a divorce and a private investigator or someone you do not want knowing that you are seeing this doctor calls the doctors office to set up an appointment. If the office went ahead and arranged an appointment, then the PI or third person would then KNOW for certain that you were seeing that doctor. This scenario has happened in cases where husband is being unfaihful and starts seeing a different doctor for treatement and the PI calls to make an "appointment" for him, thus confirming that the husband was, in fact, seeing that doctor.

Its a crazy world we live in where our entire lives can be displayed and exchanged on the internet, yet a long-term wife cannot make a doctor appointment for her husband, but that's the way it works.

If it isn't too much trouble, you may just want to provide them with a letter authorizing you to schedule and cancel appointments on his behalf. Nothing fancy, just date it, make a one line statement such as "John Doe hereby authorizes the offices of Dr. ______ to permit my wife, Julie Doe, to schedule and cancel appointments with this office. This authorization will remain in effect indefinitely until I revoke it in writing."    

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