Drug and alcohol treatment and prevention providers are now covered by two distinct federal laws that protect patient privacy. In addition to the federal law requiring Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records (42 C.F.R. Part 1), a new federal law known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that addresses patient rights throughout the healthcare system. This law went into effect on April 14th, 2003.
In most situations, HIPAA will change only slightly the way we maintain our clients’ confidentiality and disclose information. However, HIPAA will change the rules significantly in several important circumstances including:
Form and content of patient notification of their rights: Upon intake clients must be notified of their right to privacy and sign that they have been so notified. The signed copy of this notification is to be placed in the client’s chart and another copy offered to the client.
How consents are to be issued and revoked: A copy of each signed consent is to be offered to each client at the time of signing. Revocation of any signed consent must be made in writing by the client. Note: Prohibition of redisclosure must be noted on all disclosures.
Safeguards of confirmed information: In addition to current physical safeguards protecting confidential information, e.g. client charts must be in a locked cabinet and/or room; technical safeguards (electronic transmission of records) are also in place.
Procedures for filing complaints: Any client who believes his/her rights have been violated are to be instructed to speak with the Program Director and be informed that they can do so without fear of retaliation. Questions about client rights should be directed to the McCall Foundation’s Privacy Officer, Dean Sheehan at 860-496-2100 or .
Patient right to access their records: With the exception of the Progress Notes section, clients have the right to inspect and make a copy of their chart.
Designations of staff access to patient records: All staff will be categorically designated as to their access to protected information.
Administrative sanctions for violation of patient privacy: Sanctions are being developed regarding violation of patient privacy rights.
Patient right to request an amendment to their records: Written request must be received from the client and the request administratively authorized before an amendment to the record will be made.
Request and accounting of disclosures of their records: Clients may request a written account of any/all non-authorized disclosures of information from their records that were made over a period of six years, e.g. pursuant to court orders, to report child abuse, etc.