I. Whatís the big deal?
II. The Confidentiality Rule
Under Sec. 51.30, Stats. (exit DHS, PDF - scroll to page 21), treatment information and records are confidential. In general, they can only be released to others with the informed written consent of the individual, if competent, or the guardian. The rule covers both verbal information and treatment records.
These are the exceptions to the rule above, where certain, specific people or entities may access certain information and/or records for certain purposes without the individualís or guardianís written consent. There are 31 exceptions listed in the document Confidentiality explained (PDF, 66 KB).
IV. Patient Access to Treatment Information / Records During Treatment
The individual must have access at any time to their records of all medications and health related treatment. However, during treatment, the facility director may restrict access to any other treatment records. To limit or deny access to records during treatment, there must be reason to believe that the benefits of allowing access to the individual are outweighed by the disadvantages of allowing access. Reasons for any such restriction must be entered into the individualís treatment record.
V. Written Informed Consent for release of information
Informed consent must be in writing and must be voluntarily given by an individual who is "substantially able to understand all information specified on the consent form". The form must contain certain data. (For state staff, department consent forms that meet all legal standards are available.)
VI. AODA Records / HIV/AIDS Issues
These areas of treatment have special features and particularly stringent standards. Please ask for qualified assistance when applying state/ federal law to this area.
VII. When In Doubt -- Ask
The confidentiality rule is considered exceptional in its importance. Donít guess! Read the "Confidentiality Explained" document and ask others when a question arises. A few moments on the telephone or by e-mail could save you a great deal of time and possible trouble, later.
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Last Updated: August 28, 2012