Frequently Asked Questions for Pharmacists on Disclosure of Substance Abuse Treatment or History
Q: May a pharmacist disclose to a treating physician that a patient is a receiving a prescription drug for the treatment of substance abuse?
A: The ability to disclose information regarding a patient’s substance abuse treatment and/or history depends on where the pharmacist is working.
1) If the pharmacist works for a federally funded substance abuse treatment facility or a federally funded organization with personnel whose primary function is substance abuse assessment and/or treatment, then the Substance Abuse Confidentiality Regulations (which are not part of HIPAA, but are applied as a secondary level of protection for substance abuse treatment patients) prohibit pharmacists from disclosing a patient’s substance abuse treatment history to a physician. In this situation, a pharmacist must have the patient’s consent to disclose the confidential information.
2) If the pharmacist does not work for a federally funded substance abuse treatment facility or a federally funded organization with personnel whose primary function is substance abuse assessment and/or treatment, then HIPAA permits the disclosure to a treating physician. If a patient’s pharmacological history indicates the patient has a record of substance abuse, then a pharmacist may discuss this with a physician when working to prescribe the appropriate medication.