When you admit your loved one with bipolar disorder into treatment, you are given many papers to sign; among them being a confidentiality agreement.  This is to ensure that your loved one's records will remain confidential.

Confidentiality means that your loved one has to have their personal, medical, and psychiatric information kept private, and that it should only be available to their doctor (or the treating doctor/psychiatrist at the facility or hospital), other health care professionals, and insurance people if needed.

Patient confidentiality has been protected by Federal law beginning in 2003.

One of the papers you will have signed was about the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability) Act of 1996.  Even every medical doctor's office is having you sign this paper for medical care when you go to your appointment.


The HIPAA Act requires all professionals to protect the confidentiality of their patients.  By signing this paper, you are giving written consent for all release of any medical or health-related information.


Although you may not like having to do this, you pretty much can't get treated in any medical office, treatment facility, or hospital without signing it.


However, employees at all levels are expected to respect your loved one's rights to confidentiality and, in your loved one's case, since you are simply signing the paper for them to get treatment for their bipolar disorder, there is a very good chance that their confidentiality will be respected.


Policies like the HIPAA Act have been in place for quite awhile.  The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) made this a requirement in order for hospitals to maintain their accreditation.


All releases such as the HIPAA form must identify the following:


·         The types of information that can be released

·         The people or groups that have been permitted access to the information

·         The length of time for which the release is valid