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Changes in Washington State Confidentiality Laws in 2009. Gregory Robinson Washington Community Mental Health Council. Two significant bills passed in 2009. Substitute House Bill 1300, described as “Mental Health Services Information—Access”

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Changes in washington state confidentiality laws in 2009 l.jpg

Changes in Washington State Confidentiality Laws in 2009

Gregory Robinson

Washington Community Mental Health Council


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Two significant bills passed in 2009

Substitute House Bill 1300, described as “Mental Health Services Information—Access”

House Bill 2025, described as Treatment Records – Sharing—Coordinated Care”

Both bills modified 71.05 RCW


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Important Federal Confidentiality Laws and Regulations

These are unchanged:

HIPAA – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act – Privacy Rule

42 CFR Part 2 – prohibits disclosure, unless the patient has consented in writing or the disclosure falls within limited exceptions (e.g., child abuse reporting, medical emergencies).


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HIPAA’s effect on information access has been minimal for mental health

There are requirements for business associate contracts, and privacy practices notices to patients, and disclosure accounting, but

State law RCW 71.05 has generally been more restrictive about access to information about mental health services


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A murder on Capitol Hill in Seattle precipitated SHB 1300

Shannon Harps was stabbed to death on New Years Eve in 2007.

King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg headed a task force that looked into the community supervision of her killer, James Williams

During its deliberations Isaac Zamora went on a shooting rampage in Skagit County, killing 6


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Task force produced 57 recommendations, including

Task force reported that communication between law enforcement, corrections officers, and mental health providers was a problem

Many professionals were prohibited from communicating with others because of confidentiality laws.


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Satterberg report

In some cases, even where no legal prohibitions existed, there was a perception of a prohibition of sharing information, and the information was not shared.


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Satterberg report (cont.)

Statutes regarding confidentiality were not all located in one place, and a determination of the kinds of data and communications allowed to be shared was sometimes laborious and complicated.


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Origin of SHB 1300

Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson participated in the task force, and introduced four bills in the 2009 legislative session, including SHB 1300

After normal legislative processes, the bill passed both the House and the Senate, with only one dissenting vote

Amended RCW 71.05.020, 71.05.390, 71.05.445, and 71.05.630


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Some of the changes are just organizational

Definitions that were in 71.05.445 were moved to the main definitions area, 71.05.020, with no real changes

Old language that was in 71.05.630 disappeared, but see 71.05.385

Language was added in several places in 71.05.390 to specify that “disclosure under this subsection is mandatory” under HIPAA


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Required vs. permitted under HIPAA

Only required disclosures are to individual, of who has received information, and to the Feds for enforcing HIPAA

All other disclosures are “permitted” if certain conditions are met

Disclosures to law enforcement must be required by law in order to be permitted


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New elements in RCW 71.05.385

New classes of public workers are authorized to receive certain information, about certain individuals, for certain purposes:

Law enforcement officers

Jail personnel

DMHPs

Public health officers


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Additional information recipients (cont.)

Therapeutic court personnel

Indeterminate Sentence Review Board personnel

Department of Corrections personnel


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Information to be released

  • The fact, place, and date of an involuntary commitment, the fact and date of discharge or release, and the last known address of a person who has been committed or


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Information related to mental health services concerning a person who:

Is currently committed to the custody or supervision of the department of corrections or the indeterminate sentence review board under chapter 9.94A or 9.95 RCW; or

Has been convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity of a serious violent offense; or

Was charged with a serious violent offense and such charges were dismissed under RCW 10.77.086.


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Allowable purposes for requesting information person who:

  • Completing presentence investigations or risk assessment reports;

  • Assessing a person's risk to the community;

  • Assessing a person's risk of harm to self or others when confined in a city or county jail;


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More allowable purposes for requesting information person who:

  • Planning for and provision of supervision of an offender, including decisions related to sanctions for violations of conditions of community supervision;

  • Responding to an offender's failure to report for department of corrections supervision.


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Requesting person must have reasonable suspicion that the person

Has engaged in activity indicating that a crime or a violation of community custody or parole has been committed; or

Based upon his or her current or recent past behavior, a crime or a violation of community custody or parole is likely to be committed in the near future; or

Is exhibiting deterioration in mental functioning which may make the individual appropriate for civil commitment under 71.05 RCW.


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How do you know that the request is legitimate? person

They tell you it is – you can rely on their assertion

Information request must be on a form that has been vetted by a large group of stakeholders, as required in 71.05.385

Current version of the form will be used for six months as a trial run

If improvements are needed that is when the form will be reviewed


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HB 2025 provisions person

Allows release of information without authorization to licensed mental health professionals, and certain licensed health professionals

Recipient of information must be providing care, or the person has been referred to them for evaluation or treatment

The purpose is to assure coordinated care & treatment


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Licensed health care professionals who can receive information without informed consent

Physicians

Physicians assistants

Osteopaths

Osteopath PAs

Naturopaths

Administrative and office support staff for the above professionals are also permitted recipients

ARNPs

RNs

LPNs


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Why release without authorization, if it is optional? information without informed consent

Obtaining authorizations can be time-consuming, particularly if next visit is not scheduled for near future

Coordination with primary care can help to address health disparities

Feedback from pediatricians, parents, is that mental health system does not work well with others


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Health care integration is coming information without informed consent

Community mental health needs to have strong relationships with primary care

Those relationships can help inform community mental health providers about serious issues of concern for the consumer

Those relationships need to identify what information the primary care provider needs

Without that understanding, problems can arise that seriously impair the relationship


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Psychotherapy notes still require authorization for release information without informed consent

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.


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Progress notes are not psychotherapy notes information without informed consent

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.


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Psychotherapy use or disclosure authorization requirement exceptions

For treatment provided by the covered entity.

For a covered entity’s own training, and to defend itself in legal proceedings brought by the individual

For HHS to investigate or determine the covered entity’s compliance with the Privacy Rules

To avert a serious and imminent threat to public health or safety


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Psychotherapy notes authorization exceptions (cont.) exceptions

To a health oversight agency for lawful oversight of the originator of the psychotherapy notes

For the lawful activities of a coroner or medical examiner

Or as required by law, subject to strict limitations.


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