The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), was designed to protect patient privacy. They apply to health plans and to any healthcare provider who transmits health information in electronic form. If you are considering treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, you may have concerns about people finding out.
The privacy rule identifies protected health information, PHI. PHI includes any identifiable health information that is transmitted by a covered entity or its business associate, in any form. PHI includes anything that can be used to identify an individual. This includes name, address, birthdate, and social security number. Protected health information also includes demographic data that is related to:
- the individual’s past, present or future physical or mental health or condition,
- the provision of health care to the individual, or
- the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to the individual.
HIPAA laws were designed to protect patients. They ensure you can have access to your medical records and that you must give permission for your medical record to be shared. It ensures what you discuss with your doctor, including any diagnosis, does not become public knowledge.
If you are seeking treatment for substance abuse, you may be worried about your privacy. You’ll be relieved to know that all staff at rehabs including doctors, psychologists, and psychiatrists adhere to HIPAA standards. The providers are held accountable for the laws and you get to choose if you want to release any health information.
There are also Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records Privacy laws which limit communication regarding treatment even more strictly than doctor-client privilege. There are restrictions put in place for the disclosure of patient records. These regulations further secure your privacy. Each state also has additional statutes regulating substance abuse records.
This does not mean you are anonymous. If an emergency arose, the treatment facility would be able to disclose your name, what you were in treatment for, and any other pertinent information to the emergency. You also have no control over who is in the treatment facility and if they tell anyone you are there.
Most treatment facilities follow the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous, encouraging anonymity. Anonymity is one of the spiritual traditions of AA. To ensure all patients get the most out of treatment, all patients are encouraged to only share their personal experience, rather than details of what was shared in treatment. If you need help, now is the time to reach out.
There is freedom in recovery. Design For Change is changing lives one step at a time through a multifaceted treatment program and recovery services. Our 12 step based treatment programs offer a refuge from recovery bringing together families in the hope of sobriety. Call us today for information: (877) 267-3646