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Jane Doe Deer
Jane Doe Deer, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Atty. since 1986; Plain English answers to family law, employment, landlord-tenant, & other questions
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I have a question on Hippo Laws. My dad is in the hospital

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I have a question on Hippo Laws. My dad is in the hospital and has been diagnosed with Aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and has had 3 surgeries, not cognizant at this time. I am the oldest daughter 29. He has a son 16 staying with a friend. The surgeon keeps giving out private medical information without my consent to this friend.   I have told the nursing staff and they mentioned that the Hippo laws prevent this and are honoring my wishes. The doctor will not even speak with me, as this friend has convinced him I just get confused. I have spent the last 4 weekends visiting my dad and have kept in constant communication with the nursing staff on his condition. This friend has seen him 3 times. What is my recourse to get this surgeon to stop giving out my dad's medical information to this friend.

Thank you for contacting Just Answer. I look forward to assisting you.


While we write back and forth, please keep in mind that I do not know what you already know or don't know, or with what you need help, unless you tell me. Sometimes I'm unable to read your entire question until AFTER I write back to you.


Although it's usually five minutes, sometimes there can be a delay of an hour or more in between my answers because I may be researching the answer to your question, helping other customers, or taking a break. If we are writing late at night, I may have to go to sleep and resume helping you the following morning.


I need the following information before I can answer your question:


Is there any chance that your Dad signed a release that would give the surgeon permission to release information to the friend?


I'll look forward to hearing from you,


Jane Doe Deer


Customer: replied 8 years ago.
No, Dad went in for surgery in Fallen Nev, it was determined that a more experience surgeon was needed. He was taken by ambulance down to Reno, there he had a very complicated surgery, 4 weeks ago. I was going to get power of attorney signed but when he came out of surgery he was in no condition to do so. He is recovering very slowly and is still not in any condition to sign one. The medical staff does contact me as I am the oldest and has stated that I am responsible for his care while he is in this state. There were even some complications and they had to do another surgery and said they needed my permission to do so.

I very much empathize with you. It sounds to me as though you are the primary caregiver, and I've been there myself.


I suggest that you send a letter to the surgeon by certified mail, return receipt requested, possibly by overnight mail, telling him to immediately stop sharing information with the friend. You can tell the surgeon in the letter that you will file a HIPAA complaint if he continues violating your Dad's privacy in this manner.


Before you write this letter, please visit this excellent website on HIPAA:


I'd especially like you to read this item, which is the second item down on the front page: When Providers May Communicate About You with Your Family, Friends, or Others Involved in Your Care to see whether any of the exceptions apply.


Since your father was going to give you POA but now can't, you should consider whether or not to start guardianship (conservatorship) procedures. Guardianship will give you the right to make decisions on your father's behalf.


I do suggest, from experience, however, that all the family members be involved in all decision-making regarding your father--perhaps also including whether or not you write a letter to the surgeon. This is the time for all of you to pull together.


Please write back if you'd like to discuss this some more. I'll be available all weekend long.


Take care,


Jane Doe Deer and 3 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thank You very much for your help. I do agree that all family members need to pull together in times like these. I was just concerned as this friend seemed to have his own ajenda and it was not concern over my father's health.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I have just thought of one more thing. My 16 yearold half brother who is staying with this friend. Can the surgeon give out the information because my brother wants him to?

Arguably no, because he's not an adult. And arguably, for the same reason, the surgeon shouldn't be talking to the 16 year old.


What's the friend's agenda?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
What both my brother and this friend just seem care about is my Dad's things. Dad owns a home and has a jeep, truck, atv's, motorcycles and such. I have my dad's truck and both my brother and friend want it. Dad told me to drive it home. When ever we have conversations it does not seem to be about dad's health just his toys. I do not want his toys, I want my dad. My mother even sent dad flowers in the hospital, when we went to visit the card from my mom that was delivered with the flowers had be thrown out and a card with their name put in the flowers. Mom did ask dad if he knew who the flowers were from and he did know that mom sent them. The board in his room with contacts on it had my brother' cell phone and the friend's phone. They had removed my name and number. I did speak to the nurses about this and they do know I am the contact. It just seems my brother and the friend are doing eveything posible to remove me. It is very frustrating as I have spent hours just sitting by my dad's bedside. I work in Sacramento and come up to Reno everyweekend to be with him. They have only been up a couple of time. My brother also had dad's ATM and dad did give him the PIN when he was healthy. I have ask my brother to bring it and he keeps "forgetting". I found out that dad's message machine has a call from the bank on suspious activity against dad's account. Just a nightmare for me at this time.

It does indeed sound like a nightmare. You may want to contact Adult Protective Services for help, especially if these folks may be likely to try and steal from your Dad.






A guardianship (conservatorship in CA) may be a really good idea.


You may also want to consider contacting Child Protective Services regarding the 16 year old. It sounds as though perhaps he is being lead down a bad path by the friend.