Confidentiality and Caregiving
When you’re caring for a friend or family member living with schizophrenia, there are times when it may be helpful for the Treatment Team to share patient information with you. However, healthcare professionals are required by law to protect their patients’ privacy. They cannot discuss a patient’s information with a caregiver or anyone else without appropriate permission or legal authority.
The patient may need to sign an authorization form that gives his or her healthcare professional permission to share information with you, so you can help support treatment plans. Although it may be better for everyone if you are involved in the treatment process, releasing confidential information is ultimately the patient’s or legal decision maker’s choice.
Tips for discussing information sharing:
- Encourage your family member or friend to consider the reasons why signing the authorization form would be helpful
- Ask everyone on the Treatment Team to begin the privacy authorization process at the start of treatment. Acting early is important. A person with schizophrenia is more likely to make an informed decision about signing the form when he or she is feeling well rather than during a crisis
- Remember, even if the person will not sign the form, you are still allowed to talk to his or her healthcare professional. You can always share information with the Treatment Team, even if they cannot share information with you