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Hipaa Laws & Visitation Issues

Started by Blended, May 25, 2004, 12:17:17 PM

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Blended

Hello All,

We are new so please understand if we do not get everything right.  Here is goes:

Quick history: I share joint custody with my kids BM. I enjoy visitation every other weekend, holidays & summer; am responsible for a percentage of their bills & cs.  Both myself and BM are remarried.  BM (CP) moved across the state last fall with the kids and their stepfather. BM recently informed me by email that one of our children was being treated for a medical condition (she included the doc info & estimated costs).  When I called the office to get more information, I was told that they could not release any information per the new Hipaa laws because BM is the responsible party and BM requested it be confidential. BM denies this and wants me to pay her directly for the treatment but will not give me any documentation.  Secondly, BM is now consently scheduling activities during my visitation time with the kids.  I try to be reasonable for the kids sake but it is getting out of control.  BM believes that she should not make alternative arrangements when these issues arise (ie switching weekends, adding visitation days to another visit, etc). BM had one of our children call me last night  to let me know that this child has an activity scheduled during my summer vacation with the kids. (BM & I agreed on the specific dates over six months ago - our trip is non refundable.) I also found out that the activity will take place out of state.

My questions are:
1.  Has anyone ever hear or had any problems with regards to Hipaa laws? In Colorado? I know that I have a legal right to access these records.  Any suggests would be apprciated very much.
2. How do I handle this without hurting my kids and without creating a huge blow out with BM? I am concerned that if these scheduling conflicts continue it will damage my relationship with my them? Not to mention the difficulties it creates for my blended family.

Looking forward to your help.

Thanks.


Kitty C.

The HIPPA laws are federal, not state specific.  Given what you've stated, I think the only way you could get the records resolved is to go to this doctor's office personally, with CO in hand to prove your legal custody status.  The BM has no right to make it confidential, not when there is a 'joint legal' court order in place.  You need to instruct the doctor to remove the confidential status and to make you copies of the records (you will be charged for them, tho).  If he/she balks, tell them your atty. will be in touch.  They might backpedal quickly after that, but also be prepared to go thru with it.

In the meantime, do NOT pay your ex anything directly unless you see receipts for SPECIFICALLY what was done.  If she bitches about it, tell her you wouldn't expect her to pay you under the same circumstances and leave her with her mouth hanging open.  

As for the scheduling, if the ex and you ALREADY agreed to your trip, then the kids will just have to be disappointed.  They have to learn it sooner or later and where would you prefer they learn it, with you or with some stranger or serious situation as adults, where the repercussions are much more severe?  The BM has no right to schedule anything for the kids on your time, especially extended time in the summer.  If you want to let the kids down gently, just tell them that it's possibility she forgot about the agreement you had made together, but this is the way it is.

Thank God my parents went out of their way to teach me what disappointment is all about, or I could have been fried when I reached adulthood.  It's just a lesson they need ot learn.
Handle every stressful situation like a dog........if you can't play with it or eat it, pee on it and walk away.......

Blended

Thanks so much for the response!!

I decided to send a letter to BM asking her to supply me with the kids' records within 10 days from receipt or I would take whatever legal action necessary.  (Documentation, Documentation, ... regarding the situation). Of course, she did not even respond.  Since I have to take a trip to their area soon and will be visiting with the doctor at that time - then it will probably be a trip to the attorney.  

We also found out that they have not even billed the insurance company for the treatment - which I find funny since she wants me to pay out of pocket without any receipts or paperwork. BM informed me that  another child will be treated by the same doctor and once again I was not given any say or notification regarding the child's needs until after the fact.

As far as the trip, I spoke with my kids and of course that were upset.  However, during our discussion I found out that this event is out of state. Can BM schedule an activity that requires out of state travel without my consent for a minor? What about a stepparent signing the permission slip in my place as their father? Any ideas ?



Kitty C.

I'd be contacting the organization in charge of this activity, telling them that you are the BD and have NOT legally given your consent to this trip.  Besides, like I said, if the BM planned this AFTER she agreed to your extended summer time, they're still gonna have to be disappointed, out of state or not.  Maybe it will teach the BM a valuable lesson, as I doubt that if she's paid any money up front for it that they will reimburse her for all or any of it!
Handle every stressful situation like a dog........if you can't play with it or eat it, pee on it and walk away.......

wendl

when you see the dr make sure to give them a copy of your divorce decree.

Also check to see if in your court order it states anything about out of state travel, most her have a clause that it must be agreed upon in writing by both parents.


Troubledmom

GO to the US Dept of Health web site at http://answers.hhs.gov/cgi-bin/hhs.cfg/php/enduser/std_alp.php
Click on their search bar. In the search section bring up the Privacy of Health Information (HIPAA) Personal Reps/Parents of Minors and key word will be "Minor"

The text of that question answered is:
 Does the HIPAA Privacy Rule allow parents the right to see their children's medical records?
 
  Question
  Does the HIPAA Privacy Rule allow parents the right to see their children's medical records?
 
  Answer
  Yes, the Privacy Rule generally allows a parent to have access to the medical records about his or her child, as his or her minor child's personal representative when such access is not inconsistent with State or other law.

There are three situations when the parent would not be the minor's personal representative under the Privacy Rule. These exceptions are: (1) when the minor is the one who consents to care and the consent of the parent is not required under State or other applicable law; (2) when the minor obtains care at the direction of a court or a person appointed by the court; and (3) when, and to the extent that, the parent agrees that the minor and the health care provider may have a confidential relationship. However, even in these exceptional situations, the parent may have access to the medical records of the minor related to this treatment when State or other applicable law requires or permits such parental access. Parental access would be denied when State or other law prohibits such access. If State or other applicable law is silent on a parent's right of access in these cases, the licensed health care provider may exercise his or her professional judgment to the extent allowed by law to grant or deny parental access to the minor's medical information.

Finally, as is the case with respect to all personal representatives under the Privacy Rule, a provider may choose not to treat a parent as a personal representative when the provider reasonably believes, in his or her professional judgment, that the child has been or may be subjected to domestic violence, abuse or neglect, or that treating the parent as the child's personal representative could endanger the child



Good Luck
TM

Blended

Thank you! I had visited that site & page due to some of my research on this site.

I had notified the office of this information and the statue 14-10-123.8 which states the access to records shall not be denied to any party allocated parental responsibility.  The office is stating that since BM (the responsible party for the account) asked to keep things confidential it falls under compliance of #3.

Thanks, I need all of the luck I can possible get especially in dealing with this situation.
:D

rainbow1

If you have joint LEGAL custody you can NOT be denied full info and COPIES of your children's complete medical records. Have a lawyer send the medical facility a copy of the joint custody order and your request for all medical records going back to when she moved. Whoever has primary placement or custody is supposed to pay all medical , dental, & vision expenses that insurance doesn't cover and submit copies of the bills AND proof that they have been paid in full to the other parent for reimbursement unless otherwise specified in the court order. There is usually a time limit of 30 or 45 days from the bill's due date to submission to the other parent for the reimbursement or the primary placement  parent can lose the right to reimbursement. If you go back to court (sounds like you will) take documentation of denied visitation-request W/ make up time of your choice(have dates ready, single days or one large block of time for all time lost). Ask for modification of placement times.   Have a detailed parenting plan ready with areas of decision making delegated to either parent or joint. Have a DETAILED proposed schedule, days, times, holidays, transportation responsibility with penalties for violations included. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING!