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Confidentiality of Treatment Records

Applies to: Anyone who is receiving services for mental illness, a developmental disability, or substance abuse in the state of Wisconsin has the right to have their treatment information kept confidential.

To see the actual laws and rules, review the following:

  • Sec. 51.30 (exit DHS; PDF - scroll to page 22), Wisconsin Statutes
  • DHS 92 (exit DHS; PDF), Wisconsin Administrative Code

For a brief summary of the confidentiality laws and rules, see Confidentiality At-A-Glance. For everything you ever wanted to know about the subject, see Confidentiality Explained (PDF, 220 KB). There are serious civil and criminal penalties for violating confidentiality.

There are also federal regulations regarding the confidentiality of protected health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Parents do not automatically get copies of treatment records for their minor children. See Release of Information to Parents of Minors.

HIPAA regulations differ in some ways from Wisconsin laws and rules. In general, federal laws and rules "trump" state laws and rules.  However, where they conflict, the rule that is most protective of the client's rights prevails. For more information about HIPAA rules check out the DHS site on HIPAA applicability.

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Last Updated: July 31, 2013