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My child just turned 18. Do I still have access to medical records?

By Beth K. Flowers, shareholder

In Illinois, the age of 18 is when a child is considered a legal adult.

When your child becomes a legal adult at age 18, you lose parental rights to be involved in your child’s affairs. In other words, your child gains legal rights to do things independently and without your consent or involvement. These rights include voting, entering into contracts, applying for credit without a cosigner, buying personal property and real estate, making a will, and obtaining medical treatment without parental consent.

Since an 18 year old child is now an adult and able to seek medical treatment on their own, they are also protected by The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA). The HIPPA Privacy Rule protects personal medical information from being shared without patient authorization. A parent no longer has the right to access their child’s medical information once their child has turned 18 without their child’s permission. In many cases, this permission can be easily given by your child signing a HIPPA waiver release at each healthcare provider’s office.

However, there are situations where your child signing a medical release may not be possible. In a medical emergency, this leaves parents in the stressful situation of being unable to easily or readily find out what is happening and with almost no authorization to make treatment decisions when adult children are unable to consent the release of information to the child’s parents.

A durable power of attorney for health care is a document that allows an adult to appoint exactly who they want to receive medical information and, when necessary, make decisions for them about their medical care and treatment. This straightforward legal document provides peace of mind in knowing that a parent can still act in their child’s interest in emergency medical situations.

Professional Services Disclaimer: Please note that the information presented here is as an educational service, and while it contains information about legal issues, it is not legal advice. No warranty is made regarding the applicability of the information presented to a particular client situation, and the information set forth is not a substitute for original legal research, analysis and drafting for a particular client situation.

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