Clifton Taylor, MA, LPC, NCC, CSAT
Primarily, what we discuss in my office remains, by law, confidential. I will not disclose any information about you unless you give me written permission to do so. The law does, however, mandate certain exceptions to confidentiality. These exceptions include:
• Duty to Warn and Protect: When a client discloses intentions or a plan to harm another person or persons, the health care professional may take reasonable action to report this information to medical or law enforcement personnel if the health care professional determines that there is a probability of imminent physical injury by the client to others. In cases in which the client discloses or implies a plan for suicide, the health care professional may take reasonable action to report this information to medical or law enforcement personnel if the health care professional determines that there is a probability of imminent physical injury by the client to the client.
• Public Safety: Health records may be released for the public interest and safety for public health activities, judicial and administrative proceedings, law enforcement purposes, serious threats to public safety, essential government functions, military, and when complying with worker’s compensation laws. This includes AIDS/HIV infection and possible transmission.
• Abuse: If a client states or suggests that he or she is abusing a child or vulnerable adult, or has recently abused a child or vulnerable adult, or a child (or vulnerable adult) is in danger of abuse, the health care professional is required to report this information to the appropriate social service and/or law enforcement personnel. If a client is the victim of abuse, neglect, violence, or a crime victim, and their safety appears to be at risk, the health care professional may share this information with law enforcement personnel to help prevent future occurrences and capture the perpetrator.
• Prenatal Exposure to Controlled Substances: Health care professionals are required to report admitted prenatal exposure to controlled substances that are potentially harmful.
• Client’s Death: In the event of a client’s death, the spouse or parents of a deceased client have a right to access their child’s or spouse’s records.
• Professional Misconduct: Professional misconduct by a health care professional must be reported by other health care professionals. In cases in which a professional or legal disciplinary meeting is being held regarding the health care professional’s actions, related records may be released in order to substantiate disciplinary concerns.
• Judicial or Administrative Proceedings: Health care professionals are required to release records of clients when a court order has been placed.
• Minors/Guardianship: Parents or legal guardians of non-emancipated minor clients have the right to access the client’s records.
• Fee Disputes: When payment for services are the responsibility of the client, or a person who has agreed to providing payment, and payment has not been made in a timely manner, collection agencies may be utilized in collecting unpaid debts. The specific content of the services (e.g., diagnosis, treatment plan, progress notes, testing) is not disclosed. If a debt remains unpaid it may be reported to credit agencies, and the client’s credit report may state the amount owed, the time-frame, and the name of the clinic, health care professional, or collection source.
• Insurance Companies: Insurance companies, managed care, and other third-party payers are given information that they request regarding services to the client. Information which may be requested includes type of services, dates/times of services, diagnosis, treatment plan, description of impairment, progress of therapy, and summaries.
• Treatment Team: Information about clients may be disclosed in consultations with other professionals in order to provide the best possible treatment. In such cases the name of the client, or any identifying information, is not disclosed. Clinical information about the client is discussed. Some progress notes and reports are dictated/typed within the clinic or by outside sources specializing in (and held accountable for) such procedures.