Patient Advocates Warn New Rules Loosening Privacy Protections Could Prevent Patients From Seeking Help For Substance Abuse
HHS maintains the changes would make it easier to coordinate care and less complicated to exchange information. News on substance abuse issues comes from Minnesota, California and other parts of the country, as well.
New Substance Abuse Privacy Rules Could Hurt Addiction Patients
Patient advocates cautioned HHS against loosening patient privacy protections surrounding substance use disorder records, warning it could lead people to avoid treatment. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration wants to change the rules to make it easier for providers to address the opioid crisis by removing barriers to coordinated care and allowing them to share more information about substance abuse patients. Comments on the proposed rulemaking were due Friday. (Brady, 10/25)
The Star Tribune:
DHS Worker Alleges Ongoing Retaliation For Raising Alarms Over State Opioid Contracts
A whistleblower at the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) alleges she has been retaliated against and effectively barred from doing her work as a compliance officer since she raised alarms this summer about the legality of some drug abuse prevention contracts issued by the agency. Faye K. Bernstein, 54, an attorney and lead contract specialist at the DHS, said in recent interviews that she has been excluded from key meetings over state contracts, subjected to threats of termination and targeted with rumors designed to undermine her credibility. Bernstein said this “sustained campaign of retaliation” began in mid-July after she raised alarms about contracts approved by the agency’s behavioral health division, which awards millions of dollars each year in contracts to mental health and substance-use treatment providers. (Serres and Howatt, 10/25)
San Francisco Chronicle:
For SF Meth Users, A Sobering Center Is Planned. What Would That Look Like?
To try to curb a deepening crisis, city officials, public health experts and recovering users have proposed creating a sobering center to serve as a refuge for people crashing after a meth binge and for those in the grips of one. In addition to providing a place to rest and basic amenities, it will allow addiction specialists to try to coax meth users into treatment.Ingesting meth inside the facility would be prohibited, but the task force did recommend building safe injection sites, where users would be given clean equipment and supervised while they shoot up to prevent overdoses. (Fracassa, 10/26)
Drugs Most Involved In Overdose Deaths Vary By Region
Fentanyl remains the drug most associated with deaths in the United States, but methamphetamine is linked to more deaths in some parts of the country, according to federal drug overdose data released Friday. Fentanyl, a highly potent opioid, is the drug most involved in overdose deaths in all regions east of the Mississippi River. In western parts of the country, methamphetamine is the leading drug associated with overdose deaths. (Raman, 2/25)