Policies should be in place to help providers make decisions about impaired patients. The legal matters to consider in developing a policy are breach of confidentiality (Part I, today), duty to warn, duty to report, and authority to detain (Part II, next week).

Breach of confidentiality

The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) mandates health providers to disclose individual health information on a need-to-know basis for the purposes of treating, of conducting practice operations, and of obtaining payment for services. There is an exception, however, that applies to the impaired or dangerous patient. The law permits doctors and nurses to disclose protected health information to law enforcement if that individual is “reasonably able to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the health or safety of an individual or the public” (Buppert, 2009).


This month’s civil topic is “Patient Safety: Intoxication”  Areas of discussion:

  • Case Scenario (9/1/14)
  • Documentation (9/8/14)
  • Policies, Part I (9/15/14)
  • Policies, Part II (9/22/14)

Note: To see all posts in this topic, click here.

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