Archive: September 17, 2022

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Substance Use Disorder Patient Records: Important Limitations on Disclosure in Litigation or Otherwise

Substance Use Disorder Patient Records: Important Limitations on Disclosure in Litigation or Otherwise

Under 42 U.S.C. 290dd-2, federal law requires “records of the identity, diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment of any patient which are maintained in connection with the performance of any program or activity relating to substance use disorder education, prevention, training, treatment, rehabilitation, or research, which is conducted, regulated, or directly or indirectly assisted by any department or agency of the United States” to be maintained confidentially and disclosed only as provided under this law.  Accordingly, such substance abuse treatment programs and related third-party payers and administration entities should be aware of the restrictions on disclosure and use of patient records relating to certain substance use disorders under this statute and 42 C.F.R. Part 2.  Violations of this regulation may be subject to criminal penalty.  Significantly, this regulation does not compel disclosure of such records even if they fall into permissible circumstances, but rather indicates circumstances in which these records may be disclosed.  Patient consent and/or a court order authorizing disclosure of patient information otherwise prohibited by this regulation is necessary in order to provide this information in response to a subpoena or other legal requirement.

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