Some people in Washington create their own medical directives, not really knowing all the relevant laws or requirements that apply. If you created a living will, healthcare power of attorney, or other advance medical directive, you should take the time to review it and make sure it includes a HIPAA release.
HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It is a federal law that applies in all states, effectively limiting who can view confidential medical information. A HIPAA release is a form in which you detail who has the right to view otherwise confidential medical records about you.
When you make a medical directive it’s important to ensure the appropriate HIPAA release language in that form. If, for example, you fall ill and are no longer able to speak to your doctors, your health care power of attorney will allow someone else to speak to your doctors on your behalf and make medical decisions for you.
If that power of attorney does not contain a HIPAA release, the person making your medical decisions may face some difficulties in reviewing your medical records. This can hinder his or her ability to make knowing choices on your behalf.
If you have recently moved to Washington and have medical directives from another state, you can still usually use these. However, regardless of where you created your advance medical directives, you need to review them to ensure they include a HIPAA release. If they don’t, you should contact an estate planning attorney for information about the best way to include such a release with your medical directives.
Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.