The agency protects the confidentiality of information about clients and assumes a protective role regarding the disclosure of confidential information.
Interpretation: The agency must carefully reconcile its policies, procedures, and practices with all applicable confidentiality laws and regulations including, but not limited to, laws and regulations governing information about youth involved with the juvenile justice system, mental health consumers, victims of domestic violence, drug and alcohol treatment, and HIV/AIDS.
The agency’s procedures must reconcile legal restrictions on the release of identifying information about clients with mandatory reporting and duty to warn requirements. Written procedures should include guidance to personnel in determining the degree of danger a person may pose to him or herself or to the community.
Adult Guardianship (PA-AG) programs must have procedures in place to ensure the decision to release confidential information is made in an ethical manner. See PA-AG 8.02 for more information on ethical decision-making. The level of client involvement in the decision to release confidential information will vary based on the court order and state law.
The agency informs the client, prior to his or her disclosure of confidential or private information, about circumstances when the agency may be legally or ethically permitted or required to release such information without the client's consent.
When the agency receives a request for confidential information about a client, or when the release of confidential information is necessary for the provision of services, prior to releasing such information, the agency:
Interpretation: In the context of this standard, “valid” means justifiable, legitimate, convincing, legally permissible, and in the best interest of the client.
The agency obtains legal counsel regarding the confidentiality of records and the conditions under which they may be subpoenaed. Unless otherwise required by law, authorization to release confidential information is not necessary where the request for information is pursuant to a subpoena. The agency seeks additional legal counsel, as necessary, when others seek person-identifying information about an individual or family, or when the release of confidential information is necessary for the provision of services.
When the client is a minor or an adult under the care of a guardian, the agency should follow any laws or regulations allowing or requiring the agency to obtain the authorization of clients' parents or legal guardians.
When permitted or required by law, regulation, or court order, confidential information may be released without the authorization of the client and legal guardian. However, the client and legal guardian should still be informed that the information will be released.
Informed, written consent is obtained from the client, or a legal guardian, prior to recording, photographing, or filming.
Interpretation: When required by law, consent may not be necessary. However, it is still expected that theagency inform clients prior to recording, photographing, or filming.
The release form for disclosure of confidential information includes the following elements:
Update: Added Third Interpretation - 06/01/10
Added Third Interpretation
Interpretation: When permitted or required by law, regulation, or court order, confidential information may be released without authorization of the person or legal guardian. In this case elements (b) and (i) will not apply. However, the agency should still inform the person and/or legal guardian that the information will be shared, as referenced in CR 2.01 and CR 2.02.
Interpretation: Blanket release forms signed by clients when service is initiated do not meet the requirements of this standard, except as put forth by federal regulation, for example, when making application to FEMA/DHS in a declared disaster.
Interpretation: Credit counseling agencies may provide a release at the initiation of service to allow for information sharing for the duration of the DMP, or as required by law.
The agency offers a copy of the signed release form to the person or family authorizing the disclosure of confidential information and places a copy in the case record.
Interpretation: A copy of the completed release form should be offered to the person, and placed in the case record, even when it is permissible by law to release confidential information without the person's authorization and signature.
Interpretation: When there are concerns about the individual’s capacity to understand the confidential nature of the document, such as when the individual has been deemed incapacitated by the court, it may be inappropriate to provide the individual with a copy of the release form. Instead, the worker should include a copy of the release form in the case record and document reasons why the form was not provided.