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Joint Legal Custody and Release of Medical Records

Hastings, MI |

My friend lives in Michigan, her ex-husband lives in Oregon and they share joint legal custody of their 10 year old son, who lives in Michigan with his mother, my friend. The father managed to obtain and sign a consent for release of confidential information from the psychological consultants with whom the son received therapy, said release allowing the boy's grandmother , who also lives in michigan, access to psychological testing/evals and recommendations, as well as enabling her to make/change appointments for the boy, which was done without the knowledge of the mother who has sole physical custody.
Have any HIPPA violations occurred on the face of this information, and if so, where does my friend start to file a complaint?

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Attorney answers 2

Best Answer
Posted

If father filled out a permission to release records to third party, grandmother, and the records were sent to grandmother on that basis, the psychologist may be okay, but the better practice would have been to contact the other joint legal custodian BEFORE the release. Father had the right to see the records but they should only be disclosed under a prohibition of release to any other entity absent further release by the custodians. Grandmother cannot boot strap her way into a parental access role through father's release. I would speak to the psychologist and suggest that s/he contact the APA for counsel about what happened and what to do. Depending on where the therapy is taking place, it may or may not be a violation of Michigan law to re-disclose confidential mental health records. HIPAA does not address re-disclosure. See the link below.
http://www.apa.org/ethics/index.aspx

Posted

The father is entitled to access his son's medical records as joint legal custodian. As for a HIPAA violation, from what I gather it was not the psychologist who released the records to the grandmother. The grandmother should not be able to make or change appointments for the child, as she has no standing (legal right) to do so. Scheduling or changing of appointments does not have any relationship to accessing medical records by the grandparent. The records were obviously provided to her by the child's father. I don't see any HIPAA violation in my opinion. If the paternal grandmother is making/changing appointments, let the psychologist know that only the mother is entitled to make/change appointments.

Neil M. Colman
www.divlawyer@gmail.com

Mr. Colman is licensed to practice law in Michigan. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Colman strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.

Margaret J. Nichols

Margaret J. Nichols

Posted

If father filled out a permission to release records to third party, grandmother, and the records were sent to grandmother on that basis, the psychologist may be okay, but the better practice would have been to contact the other joint legal custodian BEFORE the release. Father had the right to see the records but they should only be disclosed under a prohibition of release to any other entity absent further release by the custodians. Grandmother cannot boot strap her way into a parental access role through father's release. I would speak to the psychologist and suggest that s/he contact the APA for counsel about what happened and what to do. Depending on where the therapy is taking place, it may or may not be a violation of Michigan law to re-disclose confidential mental health records. HIPAA does not address re-disclosure. See the link below. http://www.apa.org/ethics/index.aspx

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