If you are trying to get information from a healthcare professional regarding your loved one's condition, medication or mental state, you will eventually probably run into the HIPAA law.

It stands for The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). First understand that I am not a lawyer but one of the components of this act is that it prevents healthcare professional from sharing medical information with people that are unauthorized to receive this information.

In order for someone to be authorized to receive or talk about a person's medical condition a waiver has to be signed. Many times, people don't have this waiver so the health care professional with not talk to them.

The law is actually good because it protects people's privacy but a bad part of it is that it prevents free communication between those trying to help someone bipolar via a doctor.

The problem is that in most cases, many doctors can not totally find out what a person who is bipolar is doing at home because they are not there. They have to rely on an objective independent honest caring loved one-you. But if your loved one has not signed a waiver, a doctor can't talk to you about your loved one's treatment. Don't get mad at them it's not their fault, it's the government.

First, try to get your loved one to sign the waiver. Here is the waiver I used for my mother's doctor.

----------------------------------------------------

<Date>

To: <Doctor, health care official>

I, <Patient Name> authorize you to speak with both my spouse, <Name of spouse>, residing at <full address of spouse> and/or my son/daughter/family member, whose address is <full address of family member>, about anything related to my health including but not limited to my medical condition, medications I'm currently taking and any and all other information that will be helpful pertaining to me, or to help me remain stable while in your care.

I am also giving you verbal permission to release this information to anyone related to my care. Also, written and/or verbal permission will be dated and given upon request.

Provision - If I am unable to give verbal or written permission, <family member name and/or spouse name> will make those decisions with the guidance of <doctor's name, health care official's name>.

The above agreement expires on <DATE 2 YEARS INTO FUTURE>.

Signature:________________________ Date: ____________________                       <Patient's Name>

Now if you can't get a waiver signed, here is the next best thing. First let me say again I am not a lawyer but based on my understanding of the law, if you send information to your loved one's doctor he/she can read it but can NOT talk to you about their condition. So, you will have the ability to communicate changes in their mood and condition and give the doctor some information that might help him/her but he/she probably will not be able to talk to you about it.

So in the worst case scenario, as you are trying various strategies to get your loved one to sign the waiver, you can always send the doctor updates and hopefully he or she will read them.

You can call and ask them if you send updates will they read them and help them understand this is not a violation of the HIPAA law as I and others understand it .

But, please be warned, the doctor or therapist might read whatever you wrote about concerning your loved one.