Client Rights: Your Right to Confidential Treatment

You have the right to keep your information confidential when you receive developmental disability, mental health, or substance use treatment.

Read Confidentiality Explained

Laws

Wisconsin law covers your treatment confidentiality:

In addition, there are federal rules under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). If state and federal laws conflict, the rule that applies is the one that most protects your rights.

Penalties

There are penalties for facilities that break confidentiality.

Disclosing confidential information: Civil penalties

  • For giving out information without knowing it, the facility will pay:
    • Actual damages.
    • Attorney fees.
    • Example damages up to $1,000.
  • For giving out information on purpose, the facility will pay:
    • Actual damages.
    • Attorney fees.
    • Example damages up to $25,000.

Disclosing confidential information: Criminal penalties

  • For giving out information without knowing it, the facility will:
    • Pay up to $1,000.
  • For knowingly giving out information, the facility will:
    • Pay up to $25,000.
    • Spend up to nine months in jail.
  • For knowingly giving out information on purpose, the facility will:
    • Pay up to $100,000.
    • Spend up to 3½ years in prison.

Records violations: Criminal penalties

  • For giving a fake reason for needing treatment records, the facility will:
    • Pay up to $25,000.
    • Spend up to nine months in jail.

Disclosing HIV status: Civil penalties

  • For giving out someone’s HIV status without knowing it, the facility will pay:
    • Actual damages.
    • Attorney fees.
    • Example damages up to $2,000.
  • For giving out someone’s HIV status on purpose, the facility will pay:
    • Actual damages.
    • Attorney fees.
    • Example damages up to $50,000.

Disclosing HIV status: Criminal penalties

  • For giving out someone’s HIV status without knowing it—and it causes them harm—the facility will:
    • Pay up to $50,000.
    • Spend up to nine months in jail.
  • For giving out someone’s HIV status without knowing it—and it doesn’t cause them harm—the facility will:
    • Pay up to $2,000.
  • For giving out someone’s HIV status to make money, the facility will:
    • Pay up to $200,000.
    • Spend up to 3½ years in prison.
Last Revised: April 11, 2022