The below article in New York Times suggests that the use of HIPAA codes are often misinterprets the law and often families have to struggle accessing the information on behalf of their love ones during the crisis situation. I recommend the best defense is not necessarily to rely on the law, but to have HIPAA release language in your Health Care Power of Attorney in place. Here is the recommended language:
I intend for my agent to be treated as I would be with respect to my rights regarding the use and disclosure of my individually identifiable health information or other medical records. This release authority applies to any information governed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (a.k.a. HIPAA), 42 USC 1320d and 45 CFR 160-164. I authorize any physician, healthcare professional, dentist, health plan, hospital, clinic, laboratory, pharmacy, or other covered health care provider, any insurance company and the Medical Information Bureau, Inc. or other healthcare clearinghouse that has provided treatment or services to me or that has paid for or is seeking payment from me for services to give, disclose, and release to my agent, without restriction, all of my individually identifiable health information and medical records regarding any past, present, or future medical or mental health condition, including all information relating to the diagnosis and treatment of HIV / AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, mental illness, and drug or alcohol abuse. The authority given my agent shall supersede any prior agreement that I may have made with my health care providers to restrict access to or disclosure of my individually identifiable health information.