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I've heard there's a HIPAA exception where health care providers can share information without the patient's consent for the purposes of treatment.

Does this mean my previous psychiatrist can share information with my current psychiatrist?

  • 1
    Hmm, often. But, you're going to need to be more specific. We need your country/state/city of residence, as law is not all the same in all provinces and different health services are ran in different areas residential treatment. In the UK, some mental health services, share your progress with other members part of the same "team" (a board) without consent to, help add perspective and aid providing you with the best possible plan for your psychiatric treatment. – user19679 Feb 14 '16 at 0:01
  • HIPAA is a United States law. – Mark D Worthen PsyD Jul 15 '17 at 0:51
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Does this mean my previous psychiatrist can share information with my current psychiatrist?

Yes.1,2

There is an exception for 'psychotherapy notes', a term with a very specific meaning3 under HIPAA:

Psychotherapy notes means notes recorded (in any medium) by a health care provider who is a mental health professional documenting or analyzing the contents of conversation during a private counseling session or a group, joint, or family counseling session and that are separated from the rest of the individual's medical record. Psychotherapy notes excludes medication prescription and monitoring, counseling session start and stop times, the modalities and frequencies of treatment furnished, results of clinical tests, and any summary of the following items: Diagnosis, functional status, the treatment plan, symptoms, prognosis, and progress to date. (emphasis added)

If you had psychotherapy sessions with your previous psychiatrist, and he or she kept psychotherapy notes of each session, which are stored separately from other treatment records, you would need to sign a consent form to permit your previous psychiatrist to send copies of those psychotherapy notes to your new psychiatrist.

Footnotes

  1. Uses and disclosures to carry out treatment, payment, or health care operations, C.F.R. § 164.506 (2017).

  2. Office for Civil Rights, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Does a physician need a patient's written authorization to send a copy of the patient's medical record to a specialist or other health care provider who will treat the patient?, https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/faq/271/does-a-physician-need-written-authorization-to-send-medical-records-to-a-specialist/index.html, last reviewed 26 Jul 2013, accessed 14 Jul 2017.

  3. Definitions, C.F.R. § 164.501 (2017).

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