The Federal Register Journal for the United States Government recently published a proposal on the confidentiality rules in patients with alcohol and drug abuse treatments. The proposal states that a series of modern regulations must be made, so the system can access patient records more easily without the prior consent of the patient.
A recent debate has developed over the proposal made by the federal government regarding confidentiality rules in patients being treated for alcohol and drug abuse.
The debate is focused on the fact that patients that don’t allow public disclosure of their medical records could risk their health by keeping other medical providers in the dark about their care. At the same time, patients could experience the risk of their homes and child custody arrangements by allowing the sharing of damaging details of their lives among providers.
Within the proposal on the confidentiality of substance disorder records, the federal government states the proposal is prompted by the need of an update or modernization on the regulations. The last update made in the regulations was in 1987, and the statement firmly assures that in the last 25 years significant changes have occurred in the country and in its health care system.
The federal government assures that most of these regulations don’t include the new models of integrated care, that builds up a foundation of information sharing to support the coordination of patients care.
The main objective of the proposal is to ensure help for patients in substance abuse treatments within the new integrated health care models. Focusing on the fact that patients could risk their health for unpublished details on their treatment.
The main concern of this proposal is the fact that if the whole system is aware of the patient’s substance abuse record, it could affect individuals in ways such as, loss of employment, loss of housing, loss of child custody, discrimination by medical professionals, insurers, arrest and incarceration
Matt Salo an executive director of the National Association of Medicaid assures that the current regulations regarding patients in substance abuse treatment are “well intentioned, but not working. The Medicaid program for lower-income people is responsible for a significant and growing share of the money spent on treatment for substance use”
Dr. Wanda Filer, the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians states to NPR website, that is very common in family medicine to have a patient with 5 to 10 diagnoses, one of them being substance abuse, so when doctors don’t have access to all the relevant medical information of a patient the prescription of medicine can be dangerous.
If the proposal of the Department of Health and Human Services from the federal government passes, it would allow patients to give their consent to disclose their records to the whole healthcare system and the accountable care organization that the provider is affiliated with.
The main concern for those who don’t support the proposal is the fact that patients get involved in a privacy breach epidemic and lose important part of their lives such as jobs or child care.
The final say on the proposal is due on April 11.
Source: Federal Register