Confidentiality of Substance Abuse Treatment Information
Long before the enactment of The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the federal government passed legislation providing special protections for substance abuse treatment information to ensure patient privacy and confidentiality. Without strong privacy protections, people needing treatment may not seek the help they need because they fear the social stigma that sometimes comes from being labeled an “addict.” This social stigma also carries with it the very real fears of arrest and prosecution, loss of child custody for parents, job loss, the denial of healthcare, exclusion from public housing, or insurance discrimination.
As a mental health professional, it is essential for you to understand the federal laws and regulations governing the privacy of healthcare information generally and substance abuse treatment information specifically. These two legal frameworks sometimes overlap and sometimes conflict. The legal protections regarding substance abuse treatment information, in many instances, goes beyond the protections provided under HIPAA. In this course, you will learn about the difference between these regulations, what entities and individuals must comply with or benefit from these regulations, the kinds of information protected under these laws, as well as information that is exempt from the non-disclosure requirements. You will also learn about rules governing patients’ access to their own medical records, how to put safeguards in place to protect your consumers’ information, along with the consequences and penalties associated with unauthorized disclosure of such information.
Through interactive exercises and detailed scenarios designed to reinforce your learning, this course will give you the tools you need to ensure that your consumers’ information is protected so that you can focus on what matters most: their treatment.
Although this course focuses on federal law, every state has its own privacy and confidentiality laws that also need to be considered. It is important for you to understand your state’s laws and regulations, but they are beyond the scope of this course, which focuses on federal privacy protections.