HHS Issues Guidance for Clarity on HIPAA as It Relates to Opioid Overdose

In response to the declaration of a nationwide public health emergency regarding the opioid crisis, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights released new guidance for healthcare providers. The guidance addresses how and when healthcare providers can share patient health information with her/his family, friends, and legal personal representatives when that patient may be in crisis and incapacitated, such as during an opioid overdose, without violating HIPAA privacy regulations.

"Sharing health information with family and close friends who are involved in care of the patient if the provider determines that doing so is in the best interests of an incapacitated or unconscious patient and the information shared is directly related to the family or friend's involvement in the patient's health care or payment of care. For example, a provider may use professional judgment to talk to the parents of someone incapacitated by an opioid overdose about the overdose and related medical information, but generally could not share medical information unrelated to the overdose without permission."

View the full HHS HIPAA guidance

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