Drug Addiction Privacy
When you seek treatment for addiction, alcoholism or mental illness, can your personal information be shared without your knowledge? The answer is yes! Drug addiction privacy is actually a “thing”. Learn how to ensure that your rights are being protected.
Before we get started let’s learn a little bit about HIPPA
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is a law that was created in 1996. It was established by Congress to put privacy rules in place to protect patients.
The law is hundreds of pages long. However, the main goal is to make sure that a patient’s information is not being used for something other than its original purpose. Historically, the healthcare industry has always keep patients information safe. However, The HIPAA rules were made to create extra safeguards.
HIPPA defines the way “health records” are kept. HIPPA also give patients the right to know how their information is being used.
There are lots of security guidelines that must be followed. Many of the HIPPA Security regulations discuss the special risks that electronic processing (computers) can create. This means that companies must follow strict policies to handle the way their patients’ records are kept (and sent) on computers and company networks.
What is PHI?
PHI is Protected Health Information. PHI is anything about a patient’s health or payment. This includes basic things like name, address, date of birth and insurance information. Here are a few examples:
- A ‘sticky’ note with a patient’s name and the words ‘claim for March 23 denied’.
- A recorded phone message giving the person’s name and the reason they want an appointment.
- A referral request.
- A computer screen showing a patient’s name and text or graphic representation concerning their health.
- A discussion about a recent procedure performed where the patient’s last name was mentioned.
For the Rehab or Healthcare Provider
There are some simple ways to protect privacy:
- If you take notes about a patient, do not leave them at your desk.
- At the end of the day shred documents that have private information.
- Don’t leave information up on your computer screen, if you walk away from your desk.
- Keep voice mail messages protected by using a secure password.
- Do not share information about celebrities or well-known individuals with anyone! It can be very tempting to gossip about clients who are famous. These individuals need extra steps taken to protect them.
- Keep your voice down when discussing patient finances, both in person and over the phone.
- Do not use a smartphone (with a camera) in the office.
- Make calls in a break room, or outside the building.
Choosing Ethical Drug Treatment Professionals
As you make a decision about picking an addiction counselor or therapist, you should know what to expect. Many of these practices and procedures are driven by the code of ethics that your professional counselor is bound to follow. This is the American Counseling Association’s (ACA) Code of Ethics & Standards of Practice.
This document offers some highlights specifically relevant to you as a patient. You have the right to ask your professional counselor for a complete copy of the ACA Code of Ethics & Standards of Practice. It can be overwhelming. So, the following will highlight some of these practices and procedures that you should expect from your professional counselor.
What to Expect
• Your addiction treatment center or professional counselor will describe their qualifications and areas of expertise.
• The rehab center or professional counselor will treat you with respect and dignity. This is true in regard to age, color, culture, disability, ethnic group, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, or status.
• Your addiction center or professional counselor will inform you of the purposes, goals, techniques, procedures, limitations, potential risks, and benefits of all addiction services that you’ll receive. You may request this information for yourself.
• The rehab or professional counselor will give you the opportunity to talk about matters of confidentiality, privacy, and disclosure of information. They’ll also inform you of the limitations of confidentiality.
• Your addiction rehab or professional counselor will inform you of all financial arrangements. This relates to service before entering the addiction treatment relationship. You may request this information in writing.
• The treatment center or professional counselor will assist in making appropriate alternative service arrangements. Arrangements can be needed after your treatment, at follow-up, and for a referral.
• When questions or concerns arise regarding services, simply discuss them immediately with your addiction specialist. If questions can’t be answered or a solution reached, just call or contact the ACA for advice at 1-800-347-6647, X314, or at [email protected]
How to File an Ethics Complaint with the American Counseling Association’s ACA Ethics Committee
This section gets a little dull unless you need to follow the instructions for a complaint. Feel free to skip to the last section.
The ACA has jurisdiction only over professional counselors who are ACA members, or who were members during the time of the alleged behavior. The first step in the process is to send a request for verification of membership (membership verification cannot be done by phone). A little “old-school” don’t you think?
This can be a one or two sentence request, such as, “I would like to verify if [professional counselor] of [city, state], was an ACA member during [month/year].” Your signature, as well as a return address, must be included. If it is determined that the ACA does have jurisdiction, a standard ethics complaint form will be sent to you.
Membership verification requests are sent to the following address or FAX number: American Counseling Association ACA Professional Learning & Resources — ACA Ethics 5999 Stevenson Ave. Alexandria, VA 22304 Attn: ACA Ethics Committee Liáison (CONFIDENTIAL) (703) 823-3760 (FAX)
The standard ethics complaint form will ask you to include the following: (a) your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address (b) the name, address, and phone number of the professional counselor about whom you are filing the complaint, and (c) a brief description of the reason why the complaint is being filed. You will also receive a copy of the ACA Code of Ethics & Standards of Practice.
The ACA Ethics Committee liaison will send you a letter acknowledging the receipt of your complaint and asking for any other information the committee might need at that time. If the professional counselor is (or was) an ACA member, the committee liaison will then guide you through the ACA’s process of determining whether an ethics violation has taken place.
If he or she is not a member, the liaison will describe other options you may have. For additional information, please call the ACA at 1-800-347-6647, X314, or e-mail at [email protected]
Do drug addiction privacy and ethical considerations seem overwhelming?
Well, you have come to the right place. Pick up the phone and call me on the phone and we can talk confidentially. You can even ring me on my personal cell phone. The number is the same one I’ve had for 15 years. 949-307-2880. You can also check out our guide to choosing a rehab. That article (written by Bruce Berman) is packed with information to help you make good choices about a long-term recovery solution.
I’m so glad you came to our site.