Patients enrolled in inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation centers in the NYC metro are protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), as well as the 42 Code of Federal Regulations Part 2 (42 CFR Part 2). These forms of legislation are legally required to be upheld by any treatment organization, with the exception of some providers being exempt from 42 CFR Part 2. Rehabilitation centers that are not federally-insured may not be required to follow the regulations set by the 42 CFR Part 2, unless their state licensing bureaus and certification departments require them to do so.
How Exactly Is My Personal Information Protected?
In regards to HIPAA, providers are required to not only protect your information as a patient in rehabilitation, but they are also required to inform you about their organization’s privacy policies. The guidelines in HIPAA also state ways in which the treatment centers must protect your privacy from being breached in many secondary ways such as:
- the discarding of personal documentation in a confidential manner
- limiting communication in open areas such as waiting rooms to a whispering tone
- ensuring that identifiable information is not within the view of other patients
Any facility that is federally-insured or tax exempt is required to follow the 42 CFR Part 2. The 42 CFR Part 2 states that any information that could identify a patient as an alcohol or drug abuser is not to be released without the proper disclosure forms. The means of these methods in which information is being disclosed include direct and indirect methods of exposing information that could reveal the patient as someone with a substance use disorder (SUD). This means that whether the privacy breach was subtle or unambiguous, direct or indirect, there will still be potentially severe consequences to the provider and/or the facility.
What Are the Consequences of These Privacy Breaches?
Under HIPAA, if a provider or facility is found guilty of disclosing personal information surrounding one or more of their patients, the consequences are automatically quite severe. The misuse of a patient’s health information in general can result in up to $50,000 in fines, as well as up to a year of incarceration. When personal information is disclosed under false pretenses, these penalties increase to $100,000 and up to five years in prison. For misusing patient information with the intent to market it in some way, penalties can rise up to $250,000 in fines with up to 10 years in prison. Violations of the 42 CFR Part 2 can often rise to a “breaching” level which is followed by the consequences outlined by HIPAA. Maintaining your confidentiality while in treatment is imperative for your own privacy, as well as securing your sobriety in the future. Entering into a program for recovery can be quite a vulnerable time, and the protection of your identity should be upheld with dignity and respect. The guidelines presented in these statutory laws provide you with legal protection that you can rely on while focusing on your sobriety. Call a treatment counselor today for more information at (833) 762-3765.