With romance in the air for the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday, we thought we’d shine a light on the ways that HIPAA can be affected by love in the workplace and what rules are in place to address it.  Are there ethical repercussions to dating your doctor?  Can my significant other access my medical records? 

Marriage

The HIPAA Privacy Rule covers the role of family members and their involvement in a patient’s health care.  A family member includes the spouse through lawful marriage, or one that is sanctioned by “a state, territory, or a foreign jurisdiction as long as a U.S. jurisdiction would also recognize the marriage performed in the foreign jurisdiction.”

A personal representative may also be appointed, but they must be the individual that falls under state law governing their authority to act on behalf of the individual with regard to making decisions related to health care.  So no, your boyfriend can’t call for your medical chart.

Doctor & Patient Dating

This is a definite no-no.  IF there is to be any romantic interaction between a doctor and patient, their doctor-patient relationship must be terminated BEFORE initiating that type of relationship.  It must also be taken into account that the past history or knowledge between the doctor and patient may influence their romantic relationship.  According to the Code of Medical Ethics, in any case where the physician would exploit a patient’s trust, knowledge, emotions, or influence derived from that previous professional relationship, it would be considered unethical. 

Staying heart healthy can mean a lot in the healthcare realm, but make sure you’re protecting your emotional well-being too. 

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