What level of medical information should be shared with the families and loved
ones of patients is a difficult question.
If a patient is competent to give it, information should not be shared
in the absence of consent. In more difficult situations, however, such as an
incapacitation or incompetence, the amount of information that may be shared
is hard to determine.
Some states provide that parents acting in the role of caregiver may be given
limited information, such as diagnosis, prognosis, and information regarding treatment
such as medications.
In this area, health care providers should be given leeway to use
their best judgement. Whether a disclosure was appropriate or inappropriate should
be determined in light of whether the health care provider acted reasonably considering
all the circumstances. No prescriptive law or regulation could anticipate all the
circumstances that could arise, and none should try.