US Opioid Crisis Prompts Proposed Changes to Patient Confidentiality Rule

Man's hand reaching towards shelf of patient medical files
Federal health officials have proposed a revamp of patient confidentiality regulations to encourage coordination among medical professionals treating people for opioid addiction.

HealthDay News — Patient confidentiality rule changes meant to help fight the opioid crisis in the United States have been proposed by the federal government.

The objective is to make it easier for health care providers to share a patient’s drug treatment history with doctors treating the patient for other conditions, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, the Associated Press reported. That could prevent serious or deadly errors, such as unknowingly prescribing opioid painkillers after surgery to a patient with a history of drug dependence.

A patient’s consent to share their information would still be required, the AP reported.

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The changes have been sought by nearly 50 groups, including mental health professionals, insurers, hospitals, and pharmacists, and there is bipartisan support in Congress. After being published in the Federal Register, the proposal will be open for public comment for 60 days, the AP reported.

AP News Article