Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Rules on Confidentiality of SUD Treatment Records Updated to Enhance Coordination of Care

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced yesterday that it has revised regulations governing the disclosure of information about a patient’s history of substance use disorders (SUDs). The changes are intended to help advance coordination of treatment of patients under the care of multiple health care professionals.

The regulations that were revised fall under 42 CFR Part 2 and govern confidentiality of SUD treatment records.

The 42 CFR Part 2 regulations were designed to protect patient records created by federally assisted programs (“Part 2 programs”) for the treatment of SUD. With the revisions announced by SAMHSA yesterday, treatment records created by non-Part 2 health care professionals evaluating or caring for patients with SUD are explicitly not covered by Part 2, thereby allowing coordination of SUD care by non-Part 2 health care professionals.

Additionally, declared national emergencies (such as the COVID-19 pandemic) that disrupt treatment facilities and services are considered under the revised guidelines to be a “bona fide medical emergency” for the purposes of disclosing SUD records without patient consent.

HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Elinore F. McCance-Katz, M.D., Ph.D., said the adoption of this rule means Americans will be better able to receive integrated and coordinated care in the treatment of their substance use disorders. “We are grateful to the individuals and organizations that contributed their input to the rule-making process,” she said. “This is great news for our nation’s families and communities.”

These regulations will be further revised next year to better align Part 2 with HIPAA per passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act, HR 748) passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 27.

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