Too often safety for seniors is a discussion focused around dangling cords, throw rugs, wall bars, or PERS and make no mention of personal medical information. HIPAA laws have been enacted to protect the privacy of our medical information but some individuals share it with no one, worried about loss of independence and placing themselves at risk.

Recently a good friend had an acute medical emergency while away from home in a remote area of the state. She was going to go away by herself but at the last minute invited a friend to come along; a decision that may have saved her life. She was airlifted from the small local hospital to a regional medical center and her family was called. She had shared none of her health status with her children so they were unable to offer any information to assist the physicians caring for her. As news of her status spread, her medical information was pieced together and her primary physicians were finally contacted. She has made a full recovery.

Everyone has the right to privacy concerning their medical information but someone you trust should have the key to it or know the name of your primary physician. Always sign a HIPAA consent form at your physician’s office. The electronic medical record would have data but nothing is as good as a professional exchange of information, which is why health care professionals use data to support their holistic assessments.

There are secrets we all carry to our graves but our medical information should not be one of them.