SAMHSA Issues Final Rule Modernizing Confidentiality Requirements for Patients Receiving Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (“SAMHSA”) released a Final Rule updating the Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records regulations at Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 2 (“Part 2”). The Final Rule serves to modernize the regulations to facilitate information exchange and health integration while protecting the privacy of patients seeking treatment for substance use and the confidentiality of their medical records. The Part 2 regulations were promulgated in 1975 to protect the identities of individuals seeking substance use treatment from possible negative social consequences and stigma that could deter individuals from seeking treatment. They have not been substantively updated since 1987. The Final Rule was intended to go into effect February 17, 2017; however a Trump administration memorandum issued in mid-January establishing a “regulatory freeze” has delayed the effective date for at least sixty days from the date of the memorandum. In response to this directive, SAMHSA has postponed the Final Rule’s effective date to March 21, 2017. The updates to the Part 2 Regulations seek to enable improvements in healthcare … Continue reading

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Recent Arizona appellate decisions of note to providers

With change, breaking news, and uncertainty dominating the legal concerns of health care providers on a federal level, it remains important to review and refresh on state-level concerns and legal rules. This is especially true for those currently or frequently involved in health care litigation. In particular, Arizona appellate courts issued three decisions early this year of which health care providers may wish to take note. First, in Stafford v. Burns, 756 Ariz. Adv. Rep. 34 (App Div. 1 January 17, 2017), the Arizona Court of Appeals held that the heightened standard of proof for claims against a health care professional set forth in A.R.S. s 12-572(A) (“clear and convincing evidence” instead of a preponderance of the evidence) applies broadly “whenever the acts or omissions the plaintiff contends were deficient were provided in the course of evaluating and treating a patient in a hospital emergency department.” The heightened standard of proof of proof under the statute applies when services are provided in compliance with the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. The appellant had argued for a narrower interpretation that would have ratcheted down the burden of proof … Continue reading

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