Substance Use Disorder and Collisions with Confidentiality

Health care communicators are well-versed in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and its requirements to protect patients and the privacy of their health records. But health providers may not know that another 1970s-era confidentiality law is still on the books and can create hurdles to modern treatment philosophies, particularly Substance Use Disorder.

42 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) Part 2 limits circumstances under which information about a patient’s substance abuse treatment can be disclosed, adding an additional layer of protection to HIPAA.

The law’s goal was well-intended — meant to protect those who sought treatment from the stigma of substance abuse and eliminate the fear of prosecution. Today, it runs counter to new health care delivery models that rely on providers’ ability to share health information to integrate and coordinate high-quality treatment, such as primary and behavioral health care, or support services such as transportation to treatment, nutrition support, or child care.  Without these support services, some SUD patients may have compounded difficulty completing treatment.

The unintended consequence of 42 CFR Part 2 is it stands in the way of the effort to stem opioid misuse and prevent related adverse events. This is especially a problem in Kentucky, which is 8thin the nation in opioid overdose death rates, according to a May 2019 summaryby the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Health care advocates have identified the 42 CFR Part 2 roadblock and are working to modernize it and provide health care professionals with one federal privacy standard for all medicine. A NPRM(Notice of Proposed Rulemaking), “Coordinating Care and Information Sharing in the Treatment of Substance Use Disorders,” was released in August by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Aligning 42 CFR Part 2 with HIPAA is supported by the American Hospital Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Medicaid managed care organizations, among others, who agree that modernizing 42 CFR Part 2 will help address care coordination.

C2 Highlights Important Issues

 Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky commissioning safety video 

 “Pediatric Abusive Head Trauma” – usually caused by the violent shaking of a baby – is a leading cause of child abuse deaths in children under 5. With education and awareness, these cases are preventable. Many caregivers aren’t prepared to deal with the frustration of an inconsolable baby – but can learn techniques to cope.  Likewise, parents can take simple steps to ensure their babies are safe while they sleep.

Soon, Kentucky parents will view a safety video about these topics before leaving the hospital with a newborn. Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky, WellCare of Kentucky and the Kentucky Hospital Association Kentucky jointly produced the video.

Marketing trends In the healthcare industry

 C2 Strategic Communication Senior Strategist, Andrea Brady, was recently featured in Medical News—a regional news publication for the Healthcare business community. Read more here.

Leave a comment