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HHS proposal gives doctors access to patients’ addiction records

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Aug. 23 (UPI) — The Trump administration has proposed a plan to tackle the opioid epidemic by allowing doctors to enter substance abuse treatment into a patient’s medical history.

Officials say opioid addiction kills about 130 people a day in the United States but current privacy laws require patient consent to share substance abuse records. The proposal by the Department of Health and Human Services modifies parts of 42 CFR Part 2, a privacy rule implemented in 1975.

Under the change, doctors would be able to see a patient’s history before prescribing a potentially addictive drug. The rule reduces the regulatory hurdles that doctors currently face to access addiction treatment information.

“Not having that information can literally be deadly,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said.

“The lack of critical substance use history in a patient’s medical record can lead to potentially damaging consequences for a person with a substance use disorder and can further stigmatize these conditions,” HHS Assistant Secretary Elinore McCance-Katz said in a statement. “This rule aims to ease the sharing of information, reduce burden for providers, and increase access to care for individuals while at the same time maintaining important privacy controls.”

There would still be protections for patients that prevent law enforcement from accessing records on substance abuse.

The proposal will be open for public comment for 60 days.

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