Do you have Adult Children?

Imagine this scenario: Your phone rings at midnight. It is the local hospital calling to let you know that your adult child has been admitted to the emergency room. You hurry down to the hospital only to learn that you are not allowed any input or control over your child’s care. You are not even allowed to know his or her specific condition!

Sound far-fetched? Not really. According to a relatively new law called HIPAA, each adult person’s medical condition is private information. HIPAA is a complex and lengthy law that few people understand. Although the law generally allows medical professionals to talk freely with family and friends, (unless the patient objects), the law is rarely enforced that way. The vast majority of healthcare providers prefer to err on the side of caution, which means that no one gets to know anything about a patient unless the patient has specifically stated that they have permission to know.  No other adult, unless they have your express permission, will be allowed access to your condition or your treatment. This may come as a shock to parents who have had complete control over their teenage childrens’ medical care, to learn that once they turn 19 they are no longer involved in any way. Why didn’t someone tell us, they ask themselves? Listen up- you are being told, right now!

Here is what every parent needs to know.

When your teenager turns 19, he or she is an adult and you are no longer “in the loop” legally, in terms of guiding their medical care. If you want to remain involved, all your child has to do is execute a simple “Healthcare Proxy” form, available from any attorney or from the Alabama Bar’s website. This form, if properly executed, will allow you to continue to be a part of your child’s care as long as the form is in force. Simple, to the point and easy to obtain. It will allow you the assurance of knowing that you can make medical decisions for your adult child until he or she has a family of their own.

William G. Nolan is an Elder Law attorney in Birmingham, Alabama. His firm assists Seniors and their families preserve and protect assets in anticipation of nursing home stays, assists veterans with VA benefits and assists families struggling with Alzheimer’s disease. The website is (205) 823-8916

Family Private Care gives many thanks to Bill Nolan for his article. Family Private Care Birmingham has received excellent feedback from the clients we have referred to Attorney Nolan. His office has assisted with various Elder Home Care issues for Home Care Clientele. For more information, please feel free to contact our Birmingham office at (205) 870-8855. Or, email us at