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New Rule for Substance Abuse Records: Confidentiality and Disclosures

New Rule for Substance Abuse Records: Confidentiality and Disclosures

On January 2, 2018, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (“SAMHSA”) issued a Final Rule, amending 42 C.F.R Part 2 (“Part 2”), creating new changes to the federal rules governing confidentiality and disclosures of patient substance use disorder (“SUD”) records for the first time since 1987. Part 2 protects the confidentiality of SUD records, which are subset of protected health information (PHI). This means that these records are subject to HIPAA, but are also protected by Part 2, which contains additional (and more stringent) federal protections. These overlapping standards can make the storage and disclosure of patient records administratively burdensome for healthcare providers, patients and their families. It is also a challenge for technology companies that store, analyze, and transmit patient records on behalf of providers and patients.