The House Approved the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act

The objective of the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act (H.R. 6082) is to ease limitations on the disclosure of medical records of patients suffering from addictions. This Act aligns 42 CFR Part 2, the Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records, with the HIPAA.

Presently, 42 CFR Part 2 only allows the sharing of medical records of patients suffering from substance abuse disorder to healthcare staff with no need of written authorization during emergency cases, to particular persons for research and program assessments, or if needed as per court order.

With present regulations, a special disclosure form needs to be signed by the patient permitting the addition of substance abuse disorder details in their health document.

Stopping doctors from accessing all of the patient’s health history means decisions may be made without completely understanding the potential effects.  If the information on substance abuse disorder is accessible to physicians, they can make more educated decisions which support safe and effective treatment of patients.

The Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act permits the disclosure of the medical records of substance abuse disorder patients even without the patient’s written consent for the purposes of therapy, billing, and medical operations, fulfilling the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

Furthermore, the criminal penalties for violations relating to substance abuse disorder records will line up with the penalty framework of HIPAA and wouldn’t be treated independently.

Privacy protections are likewise improved for patients, which will stop the usage of SUD information in civil prosecution and criminal cases, will secure against discrimination by forbidding the sharing of substance abuse disorder information with landlords and employers, and would call for notifications to be given in case of a breach of that information as required by the HITECH Act.

The House approved the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act having a vote of 357-57. The Act will now proceed to the senate chamber for deliberation.