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Office for Civil Rights issues opioids guidance for providers

November 07, 2017 Washington — The Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights has issued guidance for health care providers about what personal health information they are allowed to share with family members, friends and legal personal representatives if a patient is in crisis and incapacitated, such as during an opioid overdose.

In an Oct. 27 news release, the agency said current regulations from the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 allow health care providers to share information with a patient’s loved ones in certain emergency or dangerous situations. This includes informing persons in a position to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to a patient’s health or safety.

OCR also said that it is important to note that state or other federal privacy laws may also apply and HIPAA does not interfere with state laws or medical ethics rules that are more protective of patient privacy.

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