The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released two proposed rules last week about the confidentiality of substance use disorder (SUD) patient information. The first proposed rule includes several changes to the law governing medical records created by federally assisted substance use disorder (FASUD) programs, also known as the Part 2 regulations.
The changes are intended to encourage care coordination among all providers and ensure that non-FASUD program providers are not discouraged from caring for SUD patients or recording SUD information due to onerous requirements. Hospitals are not considered to be FASUD programs unless they operate an identified unit or have dedicated personnel whose primary function is to provide SUD treatment. However, hospitals and other non-FASUD program providers should be aware that if they incorporate into their medical records any written SUD records received from a FASUD program, the strict FASUD program rules apply. In this case, non-FASUD providers should take care to segregate SUD information created by a FASUD provider. Comments on this proposed rule are due Oct. 25.
The second proposed rule clarifies that a court may authorize disclosure of confidential communications made by a patient of a FASUD program in connection with the investigation or prosecution of an extremely serious crime, even if the crime was not committed by the patient. This clarification is intended to help federal enforcement efforts targeted at doctors, clinics, and pharmacies that prescribe or dispense narcotics inappropriately. Comments on this proposed rule are due Sept. 25.