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Am I Guaranteed Confidentiality during Addiction Treatment?

Am I Guaranteed Confidentiality during Addiction Treatment?Privacy during drug treatment is an important part of the rehab process. Not only is patient privacy protected by law, but it is also vital to establishing trust between medical personnel and the recovering addict. San Diego drug patients who enter treatment need to know they can depend on their caregivers, and preserving doctor/patient confidentially provides the necessary confidence for a successful recovery.

Confidentiality in Electronic Medical Records

In 1996, Congress passed the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which established national standards for handling and sharing medical information within the medical community. This also applies to the electronic transfer of records, including information through faxes and emails. Prior to HIPAA, the amount of protection San Diego patients had over their medical information varied from state to state. However, HIPAA regulations now guarantee that privacy can only be added to by state legislations, and cannot be reduced from federal standards.

This federal act also applies to the confidentiality of alcohol and drug abuse patients. Congress recognized that the stigma associated with substance abuse might discourage people from seeking treatment, so it enacted HIPAA to protect recovering addicts as well as other medical patients. Now, patient consent is required for any and all disclosures (with some exceptions) of your private medical information between health information exchanges and health information organizations.

Which Medical Providers Must Adhere to HIPPA Guidelines?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the providers covered under the HIPAA privacy act include individuals and entities that are federally assisted and provide alcohol or drug abuse diagnosis, treatment or referrals for treatment. Other qualifications include the following examples:

  • Authorized, licensed or certified by the federal government
  • Receives federal funds in any form, even if those funds do not directly pay for alcohol or drug abuse services
  • Assisted by the Internal Revenue Service through a grant of tax exempt status
  • Authorized to conduct business

What this means for San Diego drug addicts is that almost any medical provider must adhere to these standards.

What Are Patient Records?

Patient records are any documents pertaining to the assessment or treatment of a patient for medical purposes. This includes any alcohol and drug patient records which are maintained in connection with the performance of any alcohol and drug abuse treatment. The word “patient” means any individual who has applied for or been given a diagnosis or treatment for drug or alcohol abuse in a federally-assisted program. “Records” include any information, whether recorded or not, relating to a patient that was received as part of a federally-assisted drug or alcohol treatment program. This includes personal information that is used to identify any San Diego patient who receives treatment.

Help for San Diego Drug Addicts

Knowing that your privacy is protected through HIPAA can remove some fears associated with receiving treatment for substance abuse. If you or a San Diego loved one struggles with addiction, we can help. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to speak to an admissions coordinator who can answer your questions about addiction and help you find the right treatment program for your unique situation.