Beginning in 2003 and according to Federal law, your rights as a patient with bipolar disorder are protected.  In addition, the HIPAA Act of 1996 insures your right to confidentiality.


HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability.  This act requires that all professionals (which can mean both medical and mental health as well) MUST protect your confidentiality.  In other words, as a patient with bipolar disorder, you have a right to confidentiality.


This would mean that your medical and psychiatric information should be kept private, except from the people (or organizations) to whom you give permission to see this information.


These people, for example, could be your doctor, psychiatrist, and therapist – or, should you need it, the psychiatrist at the hospital if you go into a bipolar episode.  You may also need to give permission for your insurance company to see your private information.


By signing the HIPAA paper at the hospital – or even at your own doctor's office – you are expecting that they will respect your right to confidentiality and privacy.


The HIPAA Act (and other acts, laws, and policies like it) have been in place for some time because the JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) made patient confidentiality a requirement in order for hospitals to maintain their accreditation.


This means that all employees, from doctors to nurses to janitors MUST respect your rights to confidentiality.


The HIPAA act form (and others like it) must ask for certain information, such as: type of information that can be released; people/groups permitted access to your information; and length of time that form is valid.


Are your rights as a patient with bipolar disorder being protected?  According to Federal law and The HIPAA act of 1996, at least your right to confidentially is being protected.