The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is considering making changes to regulations that provide guidance on a federal law that requires patient consent before substance abuse treatment records can be shared between providers. These changes would impact survivors of domestic violence.
Under federal law, substance abuse programs generally may only release substance abuse treatment records with the patient’s express consent. With the increasing integration of behavioral and primary health care, as well as other changes ushered in by the Affordable Care Act, some health care providers and payers have advocated for more relaxed requirements for information sharing.
NCDVTMH supports improved information sharing to achieve more coordinated patient care, but only with the right protections in place. For domestic violence survivors who experience coercive controlling behavior related to their substance use, protections for substance abuse treatment records can be critical for safety and well-being.
The changes to these regulations also have broader implications for the protection of health care records that document disclosure of abuse or injuries related to domestic violence.
Many of the goals for coordinated care can be achieved through the development of technological solutions to electronically sharing information (such as data segmentation), so that patients can decide for themselves which providers should have access to which records. Of course, emergency exceptions are necessary as well.
NCDVTMH is grateful to SAMHSA for the opportunity to submit comments on how the changes currently being considered might impact survivors of domestic violence.
To learn more about this regulation and the changes that SAMHSA is considering, visit http://www.samhsa.gov/healthprivacy/. NCDVTMH’s comments submitted to SAMHSA can be downloaded here: NCDVTMH Comments on Changes Being Considered to 42 CFR Part 2.
We anticipate additional opportunities to submit comments to SAMHSA in the future. If you have comments on why protecting substance abuse treatment records can be important to the safety and well-being of survivors of domestic violence, let us know: http://www.nationalcenterdvtraumamh.org/contact-the-center/.