On October 27, the HHS Office for Civil Rights issued guidance on how HIPAA allows information sharing to respond to the opioid crisis.
This guidance explains how health care professionals have broad ability to share health information with patients’ family members during certain crisis situations without violating HIPAA privacy regulations.
Current HIPAA regulations allow health care professionals to share information with a patient’s loved ones in emergency or dangerous situations, such as when that patient may be incapacitated due to an opioid overdose. This includes informing those in a position to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to a patient’s health or safety.
Misunderstandings about HIPAA can create obstacles to family support, which is crucial for the proper care and treatment of people in a crisis situation, such as an opioid overdose.