The Department of Health and Human Services just announced that penalties for violation of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, “HIPAA” for short, have been increased to $1.5 million dollars. The increased penalties may affect Minnesota families who routinely leave emergency contacts for their children with schools, daycare providers and with their children’s extracurricular activities in the event they cannot be reached.

 HIPAA protects private medical information by requiring that medical personnel only release medical information to those who have a written authorization to receive it. The law carries with it severe penalties for the unauthorized release of medical information. In fact, the Department of Health and Human Services just announced that it is raising penalties for the unauthorized release of medical information to $1.5 million.

Many Minnesota parents routinely leave an emergency contact list for their children with daycare providers, babysitters and with their children’s schools and extracurricular activities. However, most parents are shocked to learn that just because you provided an emergency contact, it does not mean that person will be able to make medical decisions for your child if they need to.

Unless you have authorized your emergency contacts  - in writing  - to receive medical information about your kids, and to make decisions for them, medical personnel would be legally barred from discussing the care and treatment of your child with your emergency contacts in the event your child needed medical care and you could not be reached. In the event medical personnel were to release information to an emergency contact without written authorization, they could face the new stiffer penalties.

In order to make sure this never happens to your kids, you should take the time to prepare a written medical power of attorney for each of your children that is compliant with HIPAA. In the medical power of attorney, you can authorize your emergency contacts to not only get access to the information they may need, but to be able to make a decision for your children’s care in an emergency.

If you would like help preparing a medical power of attorney for your kids to make sure your emergency contacts can make a medical decision for them in the event they ever need to, contact Maple Grove will trust, and estate planning laywer Chuck Roulet at (763) 420-5087.

Chuck Roulet
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Nationally Recognized Estate Planning Attorney, Author, and Speaker