News: HHS modifies final rule on substance use disorder patient records

CDI Strategies - Volume 18, Issue 13

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released a final rule modifying the confidentiality of substance use disorder (SUD) patient record regulations, according to Revenue Cycle Advisor.

“Patient confidentiality is one of the bedrock principles in health care,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a press release, “People who are struggling with substance use disorders must have the same ability to keep their information private as anyone else. This new rule helps to ensure that happens, by strengthening confidentiality protections and improving the integration of behavioral health with other medical records.”

Some of the important changes in the final rule include:

  • Requiring the patient to consent only once for their records to be shared for treatment purposes
  • Allowing records to be disclosed in accordance with HIPAA guidelines
  • Giving patients the right to find out who accessed their records and request disclosure restrictions allowed under HIPAA
  • Expanding prohibitions for using or disclosing patient records as part of civil, criminal, administrative, and legislative proceedings

The American Hospital Association (AHA) issued a statement in support of the changes, saying:

America’s hospitals and health systems care for individuals with SUDs every day, from reversing overdoses in emergency departments to providing counseling and recovery services to connecting patients with critical resources in their communities. The proposals in this rule would substantially improve hospitals’ and health systems’ ability to provide safer, better-coordinated care to patients with substance use disorder through vital information sharing.

However, the AHA additionally urged HHS to partner with Congress to “update the statutory framework to allow for more meaningful integration of behavioral and physical healthcare.”

Editor’s note: To read the Revenue Cycle Advisor coverage, click here. To read the HHS press release, click here. To read the AHA’s statement, click here.

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News, Quality & Regulatory

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