It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: the after-midnight phone call telling you that your child has been in a serious accident and is in the hospital. Frantic, you prepare to leave to be with your child as you call the hospital to find out what’s going on.
And the nurse at the hospital says she cannot give you any information due to HIPPA regulations.
In the eyes of the law, your college student – the one who texted last week asking how often underwear needed to be washed – is an adult and legally, you cannot get any medical information about your child or make any medical decisions for your child without his or her consent.
That’s why, as you and your student are happily shopping for comforters and shower shoes, you also need to take time out to fill out a HIPAA Privacy Authorization Form, also known as a HIPAA Release form. This form authorizes you to receive information about your child’s health. It’s good to have two copies: one that you send off to college with your student to provide to the school’s clinic or a local doctor and one that you keep on hand at home just in case the original document can’t be found when needed.
You may want to also go ahead and fill out two additional forms.
- Medical Power of Attorney. This form varies from state to state and is usually associated with aging parents but your college student needs one as well. This form authorizes you to make medical decisions for your child if they aren’t able to do so themselves. In Georgia, the form is a grim affair that requires you and your student to think about all kinds of things you won’t want to think about. But it’s important to get this signed in case the unthinkable happens and your child is incapacitated. You can find the form for your state – and the state where your child will be attending school – here. Fill out both forms to avoid confusion later.
- You might also consider having your child sign a Durable Power of Attorney. This form allows you to sign financial documents for your child, handle their tax returns and manage more mundane tasks such as car registration. Legal Zoom offers a low-cost option for this form.
Hopefully, you and your child will never need to use this documents. But if a worst-case scenario does come to pass, having these documents on hand will help make a nightmarish situation a little less stressful.