SAMHSA Proposes Revisions to Patient Record Guidelines

The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released a proposed rule to revise the regulations (42 CFR Part 2) which serve to protect patient records for the treatment of substance use disorder (SUD) patients. The proposed revisions modify the regulations regarding disclosure of patient information for individuals seeking treatment for substance use disorders, specifically allowing primary care providers to make note of SUD treatment willingly disclosed to them in medical records protected under Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA); the SUD information would not have to be separated out.
The proposal did not align the regulation with HIPAA, as had been proposed by several members of Congress and healthcare organizations, including the American Hospital Association (AHA). Clinicians want access to an individual’s complete medical record without patient consent, arguing that the stricter confidentiality requirements have a negative effect on medical treatment of individuals undergoing treatment for addiction. Individuals would still enjoy confidentiality under HIPAA and 42 CFR Part 2, but clinicians would have access to a greater amount of information about the patient.
The AHA stated, “We commend the administration for taking steps to improve safety for patients seeking substance use disorder treatment … We urge Congress to further this progress by enacting legislation to align requirements for information sharing for the treatment of substance use disorder with HIPAA.”