Seeking treatment for alcohol abuse and addiction problem can be both overwhelming and scary. This is your chance to break the chains of addiction while still weighing your options before admitting yourself to rehab. For most people, admitting to having an addiction problem prevents them from seeking professional help. The stigma surrounding addiction treatment and addiction itself is one of the leading reasons why many victims remain caged with the alcohol abuse problem.
Some people struggle silently with the fear of losing their families, jobs, or education. This brings us to the question of confidentiality when seeking alcohol addiction treatment. Patients don’t want to sacrifice their privacy in order to get help. How do alcohol abuse recovery centers deal with the confidentiality issue in a bid to keep interested and current patients in line with the programs?
Laws stipulating patient anonymity
All rehab facilities are required to follow particular federal statutes and state laws that safeguard patient confidentiality and anonymity. In the United States, your records at the rehab facility are protected through the following codes.
The federal government protects your information during and after treatment, as outlined under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), enacted in 1996. All federal-assisted alcohol and drug recovery centers must follow the HIPAA laws.
HIPAA laws state that no one is permitted to disclose patient information unless in the case where a patient gives consent or when authorized under qualifying regulations. Most patients find that their treatment providers fall under federal-assisted, meaning the program accepts federally funded insurance. HIPAA laws protect all your diagnosis information, treatment progress, and your application provided it falls under federally assisted programs. The same regulations and laws protect minors by disclosing confidential information only to their parents and guardians.
The Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records Privacy Law
The law was issued legally in 1975 and later revised in 1987. The regulation limits communication concerning your alcohol treatment progress, reinforcing doctor-client privilege. Information that could directly or indirectly disclose your alcohol addiction status is securely sealed under the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records Privacy Law. However, should you give consent to disclose the information and records, the law allows sharing the information. Other exceptions where these regulations don’t apply include cases of suspected child neglect or abuse, if you come under program evaluation, during scientific research with consent and medical emergencies.
Alongside federal laws as listed earlier, each state has stipulated laws that protect individual medical, mental, and drug addiction records. State laws provided additional protection on patient records and can vary from state to state.
How do the laws ensure that the regulations are followed?
Patient information protection laws ensure that drug addiction centers must:
- Train employees on the best methods that maintain patient information anonymity and confidentiality.
- Use systems that protect clients’ records and information. For instance, every organization and rehab center must have a security system that prevents free access to records.
- Use of techniques that keep the number of staff members who are aware of confidential information to a minimum.
- Educate patients on their rights and privacy practices and well as providing them with copies of their medical and treatment records.
What are the repercussions of disclosing patient records?
The system is quite imperfect as we don’t live in a perfect world. No complex system ultimately guarantees privacy. At times, the rehab staff will make mistakes that put your information and identity in the open.
Treatment centers that violate these protection regulations may face hefty fines depending on the severity of the mistakes and violations. Practitioners and employees found liable for exposing these records and information without valid reasons, run the risk of losing their certifications and licenses. It is your right to sue any professional or employee who discloses your records, identity, and information without your consent.
At the bottom line
Seeing that patient privacy is a real problem and a primary determinant in concluding whether or not you will join a rehab facility, it cannot be overlooked. The more confident you are that your details on your alcohol treatment and diagnosis are safe and secure, the more likely you are to admit yourself to a treatment center and complete treatment successfully. Have you been considering admission to an alcohol treatment center? At the end of this piece, you should have more reasons to shake off the fear and begin your journey to sobriety. Call us today at (440) 253-9915 to book an appointment with us and win back your life.