“Hospital Toolkit” offers new resources for hospitals treating patients with substance use disorder

June 20, 2018 – Emergency medicine providers have a new set of resources for treating patients with substance use disorders (SUD): Addiction Policy Forum’s new “Hospital Toolkit.” The toolkit is designed for hospitals as well as patients, families, and advocates, to improve access to SUD treatment and care in hospital emergency departments.

The toolkit features a new legal resource by the Legal Action Center, explaining the way federal privacy law permits hospital emergency departments to notify a patient’s family after an overdose. The legal memorandum can be used by patients, patients’ families, and advocates to educate hospitals about application of the Health Insurance Portability and Privacy Act (“HIPAA”), the HIPAA Privacy Rule, and the federal law and regulations protecting the confidentiality of substance use disorder treatment records, 42 USC § 290dd-2 and 42 CFR Part 2.

The Legal Action Center resource answers common questions for emergency department providers, including: Does 42 CFR Part 2 prevent hospital emergency departments from communicating with a patient’s family after an overdose? No; in the vast majority of emergency departments around the country, the heightened confidentiality rules for SUD treatment do not apply. In addition, our legal resource answers the following common questions:

  • When and how does HIPAA permit a disclosure to a patient’s family after an overdose?;
  • What are the key definitions and relevant factors to determine whether 42 CFR Part 2 applies to any portion of a patient’s record in the emergency department?;
  • How do HIPAA and 42 CFR Part 2 apply to:
    • An emergency department with no specialty SUD providers?;
    • An emergency department with an SUD overdose team, embedded SUD services, or specialty SUD providers?; and
    • An emergency department that accessed Part-2 protected information from an SUD clinic in a medical emergency?;
  • What are the ethical and practical considerations for providers, when determining whether to disclose a patient’s SUD information to a family member?

The toolkit also features a video series produced by the Addiction Policy Forum, “Best Practices for Emergency Departments to Address Addiction,” featuring the voices of doctors, scientists, and directly impacted individuals and people in recovery. Additional resources in the toolkit include a video about a family’s experiences with post-overdose notification and printable materials for hospitals, including flyers about prescription opioid misuse and an infographic with “Principles of Care” for emergency departments addressing addiction.

For more information about the rights of patients with substance use disorders, visit the Legal Action Center’s resources for factsheets and additional publications.

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