Health Information Management

Q&A: Privacy of minors with documented substance abuse

HIM-HIPAA Insider, March 22, 2011

Want to receive articles like this one in your inbox? Subscribe to HIM-HIPAA Insider!

Q: A 16-year-old patient has admitted to extensive substance abuse, which is documented in his medical record. His father is requesting the record. Must we obtain the patient’s consent prior to releasing? 

A: Under federal law (42 CFR, part 2), records from substance abuse treatment facilities receive special protection and facilities may not release them without written patient authorization, regardless of the patient’s age.
 
State laws vary regarding the privacy rights of minors. If your facility qualifies as a substance abuse treatment facility, then these laws apply to you. Your legal counsel will advise you on this point. However, obtaining patient consent to release information in this situation is advised, as is ensuring parents and their teens are aware of the potential limits and rules of medical record privacy.
 
Editor’s note: Chris Simons, RHIA, director of utilization management, HIM, and privacy officer at Spring Harbor Hospital in Westbrook, ME, answered this question in the March issue of Medical Records Briefing.



Want to receive articles like this one in your inbox? Subscribe to HIM-HIPAA Insider!

Most Popular