Accreditation

SAMHSA: Patient consent now required for substance abuse records

Briefings on Accreditation and Quality, July 1, 2018

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 Appropriate sharing of records for patients with substance abuse disorders should be easier under a second final rule issued January 3 by HHS and its Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). But in some cases, the new rule adds considerations that might mitigate the advantage.

Rules for handling patient records that include information on the patient’s substance use diagnoses or services (often called “Part 2” records after CFR Title 42: Part 2, the relevant regulation) go beyond HIPAA standards. Previously, for example, providers handling such records had to get specific patient consent every time such records changed hands, including otherwise HIPAA-compliant transfers that took place after the provider made authorized release of them—in other words, if the provider handed the records off to a hospital, another named consent would be required for the hospital to send them to a lab.

Latest rule clarifies consent path

The January 3 final rule, which went into effect February 2, clarifies a proposed and a final rule from January 2017 about letting providers and patients arrange consent that allowed appropriate downstream parties to handle the records, and allowed patients to specify what portions of their substance records they will authorize for release and what categories of downstream handlers they will allow to have those records.

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