Center of Excellence for Protected Health Information
FOCUS: PHI is a SAMHSA-funded source for clear and accurate information about patient privacy and confidentiality
According to the Center of Excellence for Protected Health Information, federal privacy laws and regulations, like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the federal substance use disorder privacy law and regulations (including 42 CFR Part 2), and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), were put in place to protect the information of patients getting or seeking treatment. These privacy laws govern the sharing of patient information with healthcare providers, family members, schools, and other community organizations.
Clear and accurate information about confidentiality is important to ensure that patient privacy is protected and that privacy laws are not erroneously interpreted to prevent disclosure of patient information. Individuals living with mental illness or substance use disorders may not seek care without guarantees of confidentiality and privacy protections. A recent survey completed by SAMHSA found that concerns about privacy and confidentiality among individuals with behavioral health needs is a primary reason for not receiving treatment. Clarifying privacy protections and promoting communication of patient records is critical for improving patients’ access to care and quality of treatment once in care.
The Center for Excellence for Protected Health information is supported by SAMHSA and includes the following key resources: