If you are looking to go to rehab you probably have many different concerns, especially when it comes to your privacy. You may not want anyone such as future employers or school to know that you have had a problem with drugs and alcohol. This is where your health care rights come into play and it is a question that is very commonly asked; does rehab go on your record?
The answer is, as a patient in a rehab, one of your major rights is to have your rehab health record kept as private and confidential.
Unless you have specifically provided written consent for release of your medical records to a third party, your rehab health record and information will be kept confidential. It is completely understandable that you want to feel safe when deciding to sign up for rehab and part of that safety is knowing that your health record will be kept private. There are exceptions to the rule though. For instance if a court orders the release of your records, then you will have to share that information but for the most part you will not have to worry about anyone getting a copy of your rehab records unless you say it is alright.
The laws behind whether or not rehab goes on your record
- In the early 1970’s, Congress recognized that the stigma associated with substance abuse and fear of prosecution deterred people from entering treatment. So they enacted legislation that gave patients a right to confidentiality. For the almost three decades since the Federal confidentiality regulations were issued, confidentiality has been a cornerstone practice for substance abuse treatment programs across the country and are what you probably know as HIPPAA laws or the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
The HIPAA Privacy Rule establishes national standards to protect individuals’ medical records and other personal health information and applies to health plans, health care clearinghouses, and those health care providers that conduct certain health care transactions electronically such as rehabs. The Rule requires appropriate safeguards to protect the privacy of personal health information, and sets limits and conditions on the uses and disclosures that may be made of such information without patient authorization. The Rule also gives patient’s rights over their health information, including rights to examine and obtain a copy of their health records, and to request corrections.
- The federal Public Health Services Act includes comprehensive privacy rules that protect the confidentiality of rehab records. Established by Congress in part to encourage substance abusers to seek treatment, the regulations are some of the most protective confidentiality rules in federal law.
One the biggest laws that protects your rights as a rehabilitated addict is the American With Disabilities Act or ADA.
The ADA provides that any employee or job applicant who is “currently engaging” in the illegal use of drugs is not a “qualified individual with a disability.” Therefore, an employee who illegally uses drugs, whether the employee is a casual user or an addict, is not protected by the ADA if the employer acts on the basis of the illegal drug use. As a result, an employer does not violate the ADA by uniformly enforcing its rules prohibiting employees from illegally using drugs. However, “qualified individuals” under the ADA include those individuals:
- who have been successfully rehabilitated and who are no longer engaged in the illegal use of drugs
- who are currently participating in a rehabilitation program and are no longer engaging in the illegal use of drugs
- who are regarded, erroneously, as illegally using drugs.
An employer may make certain pre-employment, pre-offer inquiries regarding use of alcohol or the illegal use of drugs. An employer may ask whether an applicant drinks alcohol or whether he or she is currently using drugs illegally. However, an employer may not ask whether an applicant is a drug abuser or alcoholic, or inquire whether he or she has ever been in rehab.
If you or someone you love is looking for a drug rehab, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.