Proposal Would Let Doctors Share Addiction Treatment Records More Easily

A change proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that would give doctors greater access to addiction treatment records is raising patient privacy concerns, PBS NewsHour reports.

If the rule change is approved, doctors will be able to share patients’ records more easily. The goal is to better coordinate care for people being treated for substance use disorder.

“The lack of critical substance use history in a patient’s medical record can lead to potentially damaging consequences for a person with a substance use disorder and can further stigmatize these conditions,” Assistant HHS Secretary Elinore F. McCance-Katz said in a statement. “This rule aims to ease the sharing of information, reduce burden for providers, and increase access to care for individuals while at the same time maintaining important privacy controls.”

Leo Beletsky, a law and health professor at Northeastern University and University of California-San Diego, said giving up privacy in order to have more coordinated care is not a necessary trade-off. “We need to create more privacy protections to encourage people who use drugs to seek treatment, not less,” he said.

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    Fr. Jack Kearney, M.Div., CATC IV, CATE

    September 5, 2019 at 6:43 PM

    Professor Beletsky is right! Weakening federal confidentiality regulations (CFR 42, part 2) is more for insurance companies than treatment providers. If we lower the standards to HIPAA levels then law enforcement, for example, might have an easier time arresting people in treatment centers, which would negate one of the reasons the regs were developed in the first place. Bad, bad idea.

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