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Changes in Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records to help patients with SUDs

Posted on 01-20-2017 Posted in Addiction, Advocacy, Substance Abuse - 0 Comments

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Department of Health and Human Services updated part 2 of the Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records, 42 Code, on Jan. 18, 2017, which will allow clinical team professionals to readily share information of patients with substance use disorders (SUDs).

The final rule will be effective from Feb. 17, 2017. SAMHSA noted, “Part 2 and its governing statute are separate and distinct from HIPAA and its implementing regulations. Because of its targeted population, part 2 provides more stringent federal protections than most other health privacy laws, including HIPAA.”

Certain quarters were concerned that the information might be used against those with SUDs and they might not be willing to take the treatment. However, the way the rule was formulated, the patients needed to give their nod each time their details were shared or accessed, which only slowed treatment phases and health care provider reimbursement.

According to SAMHSA, among other provisions, the modification allows:

  • Electronic exchange of information regarding SUD for legitimate health care purposes, while upholding appropriate confidentiality for records, protecting against directly or indirectly identifying any individual as having any present or prior substance use disorder
  • SUD patients to use a general designation in the “To Whom” section of the consent form, so that consent is not required whenever it is needed by a clinician, a hospital, (Health Information Exchange) or an accountable care organization

Not all happy with update

Not all are happy with the new move. Some maintain that the new rule takes a step forward but in other aspects, a few steps backward.

Quoting Pamela Greenberg, CEO and president of the Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness, an article on the website of Healthcare Informatics, said that “the final rule continues to limit communication among providers as well as the using existing medical information to identify those at risk to certain substances; such as opioid misuse or diversion.”

Seeking treatment for SUDs

Sovereign Health is a nationwide trailblazer in behavioral health treatment and specializes in coordinated and individualized rehabilitations programs with personalized care for long-term recovery. Call our 24/7 helpline to learn more on how we pave “A Better Way to A Better Life.”

About the author

Kristin Currin-Sheehan is a Sovereign Health writer and her intriguing storytelling has been featured with Sovereign Health, KPBS TV/FM, FOX5 News in San Diego and NPR. Her illustrative and relatable approach to digital and broadcast news bridges businesses and consumers, news and community. For more information and other inquiries about this media, contact the author at

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