MRA Thought of the Day—What Power Does Power of Attorney Have?

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Kathy Gordon, RHIA, Vice President of Release of Information

Kathy Gordon, RHIA, Vice President of Release of Information

A request is received for medical information from an insurance company. The authorization for the release of information that is provided is signed by the patient’s wife. A copy of the Power of Attorney documentation is provided, identifying the patient’s wife as his Power of Attorney, (POA). Does the patient’s wife automatically have the right to authorize the release of her husband’s medical records?

Here are our thoughts….

  • POA is only valid while a person is alive, the patient’s health information should be reviewed to verify this fact.
  • Is there verification from the patient’s physician certifying the patient’s incapacitated and lacks the ability to make health care decisions?
  • Finally you need to review the Power of Attorney document to determine if it indeed contains the powers to make health care decisions; including the right to request, receive and review all medical records.

Since there are different types of Power of Attorney, when incapacity is anticipated, a person may grant medical power of attorney to another person. Medical power of attorney is the legally recognized authority to act and make decisions on behalf of another party. This authorizes the designee to act on behalf of the person who is now incapacitated. The person with power of attorney is often responsible for making decisions regarding the disclosure of health information to others.

What are your thoughts?

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