advance directive tagged posts

Shared Decision Making – with Families – Yields Better Treatment Outcomes

Alison M. Heru, M.D.
Professor of Psychiatry, University
of Colorado Denver

In the NES Program at University of Colorado Health, a six-month program combining neurology and psychiatry treatment for non-epileptic or non-electrical seizures, psychiatrist Dr. Alison Heru makes shared decision making an integral part of practice.

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HIPAA in Mental Health Care

JenniferPhotoJennifer Bernstein, JD, MPH
Senior Attorney, The Network for Public Health Law – Mid-States Region
University of Michigan School of Public Health

This is the second of three posts discussing privacy rights for mental health care provided by Attorney Jennifer Bernstein. Read the first installment from earlier this week. Additionally learn more by reading FAQs from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

When and How Can A Family Member Become Involved in Care?
Now that we have discussed some of the basics of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, let’s consider some specific concerns that family members often have regarding treatment and care of their adult family members with a mental health disorder. Generally, HIPAA gives ultimate deference to a patient’s wishes as to the sharing of their health information. There are some exceptions that are important for the family members of individuals with mental illness.

When does mental illness constitute incapacity under the Privacy Rule?
The HIPAA Privacy Rule does make allowance for when a patient is unable to authorize disclosure due to incapacity. A major determining factor on whether to disclose a patient’s information to the their family, friends or other persons involved in their care is whether or not the disclosure is in the best interests of the patient.  Incapacity criteria may include when a patient is incoherent or suffering from psychosis.

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Patient Privacy in Mental Health: Balancing Rights while Trying to Ensure Appropriate Treatment

JenniferPhotoJennifer Bernstein, JD, MPH
Senior Attorney, The Network for Public Health Law – Mid-States Region
University of Michigan School of Public Health

Patient Privacy in Mental Health: Balancing Rights while Trying to Ensure Appropriate Treatment

Privacy rights and protection of health information take on special meaning in mental health care, whether because of the stigma associated with mental health conditions, or issues of family dynamics, or a variety of other reasons. The on-going debate takes on increased importance in light of the tragedy this past weekend at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Before we explore particular instances of how patient privacy has affected people with mood disorders and their families, we’ve asked attorney Jennifer Bernstein to provide an overview of privacy in mental health care. 

What is HIPAA?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly referred to as HIPAA, provides consumers with privacy rights and protections for their health information, including mental health information. Though enacted in 1996, HIPAA’s Privacy Rule governing individually identifiable health information took effect in 2001. The Privacy Rule seeks to strike a balance between protecting patient’s privacy by safeguarding sensitive health information and allowing for the sharing of a patient’s health information to ensure the best treatment and the health and safety of the patient or others. The following information applies generally to adult patients.

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Planning to Protect Our Rights

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

colorWhen an individual with a mental health condition in need of intensive psychiatric care is hospitalized, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, the individual, family, and friends may have mixed reactions. They may feel relief that the individual is safe, but they may also feel emotionally, physically, and potentially financially drained. Yesterday on CFYM, Dr. Sederer shared his expertise in navigating what can be daunting legal and medical legalities on patient psychiatric hospitalization treatment rights. DBSA believes that patient protections are important to ensuring individuals are the lead decision-makers in their own wellness. The best wellness outcomes are achieved when individuals living with mental health conditions and their family and friends are educated and prepared for crisis.

Education is Power

DBSA encourages individuals to become knowledgeable about (1) mental health laws in the states in which they reside; (2) options for treatment centers and outpatient programs other than hospitals; and (3) the rules and regulations regarding admission and release in hospitals and treatment facilities, both for voluntary and involuntary entry.

Whether hospitalized voluntarily or involuntarily, individuals have the following rights:

  1. to have treatment explained;
  2. to be informed of benefits and risks of treatment;
  3. to refuse treatment the individual feels is unsafe;
  4. to be informed about any procedures that the individual feels may be unnecessary; and
  5. to refuse to take part in research and experimental treatments, and to disallow students or observers.

DBSA supports adherence to these patient rights in all circumstances.

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