Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act Passed by House

The Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act – H.R. 6082 – aims to ease restrictions on the sharing of health records of patients with addictions, aligning 42 CFR Part 2 – Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records – with HIPAA.

Currently, 42 CFR Part 2 only permits the disclosure of health records of patients with substance abuse disorder without written consent to medical staff in emergency situations, to specified individuals for research and program evaluations, or if required to do so by means of a court order.

Under current regulations, a special release form must be signed by a patient authorizing the inclusion of substance abuse disorder information in their medical record.

Preventing doctors from having access to a patient’s entire medical history means decisions could be taken without full understanding of their potential consequences. If details of substance abuse disorder can be accessed, doctors will be able to make more informed decisions which will help them to safely and effectively treat patients.

The Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act allows the health records of substance abuse disorder patients to be disclosed without written consent from patients for the purposes of treatment, payment, and healthcare operations, aligning with the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

Additionally, the criminal penalties for violations involving substance abuse disorder records would align with the penalty structure of HIPAA and would not be treated separately.

Privacy protections are also enhanced for patients, which will prohibit the use of SUD information in criminal and civil prosecution cases, will protect against discrimination by prohibiting the sharing of substance abuse discover information with employers and landlords, and would require notifications to be issued in the event of the breach of that information in line with the requirements of the HITECT Act.

The House passed the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act with a vote of 357-57. The Act will now go to the senate chamber for consideration.

Author: Steve Alder has many years of experience as a journalist, and comes from a background in market research. He is a specialist on legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA. Steve holds a B.Sc. from the University of Liverpool.