Confidentiality of Patient Information in Substance Abuse

Registration Open

Brown University Distance Learning Program and The Addiction Technology Transfer Center of New England, are offering a credited, on-line course on confidentiality.

Individuals should be able to expect that information they have given in confidence to a treatment provider will be kept private unless there is a compelling reason for it not to be. The principle of a confidential relationship between a patient and a clinician is an ancient one, shared by many cultures. Nowhere is that expectation more vital than in substance abuse treatment. This course will introduce the learner to ethical and legal issues bearing on the confidentiality of patient information in substance abuse treatment. It will introduce the student to confidentiality provisions under the federal regulations on Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Treatment Records (42 CFR Part 2) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) as well as special concerns relating to child protection issues, underage patients, patients involved with the criminal justice system, and HIV infected patients. This course will serve to alert the student to concerns and provide a basic grasp of the issues but is not a substitute for legal advice from an attorney or consultation with federal and state regulators.


David F. Duncan, Dr. P.H. is President of Duncan & Associates, a consulting firm providing consultation on research design and data collection for behavioral and policy studies. He is also Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Community Health at Brown University School of Medicine. His education included an undergraduate major in psychology, with minors in sociology and education at the University of Missouri at Kansas City , and graduate work in criminology at Sam Houston State University in Texas . He earned the degree of Doctor of Public Health from the University of Texas at Houston with an interdisciplinary program in behavioral sciences, epidemiology, biostatistics, and program and policy evaluation. He earned a postdoctoral diploma in alcoholism early intervention and treatment effectiveness research from Brown University . He has over thirty year’s experience in the substance abuse field, including direct service provision and direction of treatment and rehabilitation services.

Course Objectives

  • Describe the three most common ways in which patient confidentiality is violated.
  • Define informed consent, patient health information and client identifying information.
  • Describe who is covered by the confidentiality rules in 42 CFR and in HIPAA respectively.
  • Discuss the exceptions to confidentiality permitted under 42 CFR and under HIPAA.
  • Name the three purposes of the administrative simplification provisions of HIPAA.
  • Discuss the special problems and issues of confidentiality involved in providision of substance abuse treatment to minors.
  • Discuss reporting requirements in child abuse related cases and the “obligation to warn” under the Tarasoff decision.
  • Discuss the issues a patient’s HIV positive status may raise concerning confidentiality.

Course Requirements

This is a three-week course requirements are:

  • Required on-line reading (one hour per week)
  • Completion of pre and post test
  • Completion of weekly homework assignments (one hour per week)
  • Participation in the weekly course forum
  • Completion of an on-line course evaluation

*Please note that there are no real time events associated with this course. Lessons will be posted on the class home page on Tuesday and responses are due the following Monday. With the exception of the first weeks lesson which will be posted Monday with the responses due the following Monday. Assignments can be accessed at the participant’s convenience.

The total cost of this course is $60.00 the course payment is due by the start date of the course. A full refund is available up until the posting of the second lesson, after which there will be no refunds.


This three-week course, has been approved by the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) for 6 educational credits. It is being provided by the Brown Distance Learning program, which is accredited as a NAADAC Approved Education Provider (#000151). This course meets the qualifications for 6 hours of continuing education credit for MFCC’s and/or LCSW’s as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (PCE#1917). This course is approved by the Connecticut Certification Board (CCB) for six Category 1 continuing education for Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors (CADC’s). The CCB is an IC&RC affiliate. The New York State OASAS does accept distance learning CEUs provided by institutions of higher learning for individuals pursuing or renewing a CASAC, CPP or CPS. Certificates will be mailed within two weeks to participants in the program for its duration who submit all required materials.

Please contact your local certification board to verify reciprocity or acceptance of Brown Distance Learning contact hours.

To participate, you must have:

  • An E-mail address and the capacity to retrieve and send E-mail;
  • Access to World Wide Web (the following programs provide WWW access: Netscape, Apple CyberDog, and Microsoft Explorer)
  • Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher is the preferred browser for Brown DLP online courses
  • The ability to navigate the World Wide Web
  • A basic understanding of how to use a computer and send and receive email


REGISTRATION DEADLINE: The course start date or when the course limit is reached.

To register for this course please log into your account or create your account then log into your account and click the Enroll in a New Course link at the bottom of your account page. On the Enrollment page select the course you wish to register for using the pull down menu and click on the enroll button. Having enrolled into the course you will be prompted for payment. You may make your payment online or by regular mail. To view payment information please use the payment policies.

For a list of current Brown University Distance Learning courses, please go to the following site: Please Bookmark this site for future references. Course announcements will be made via the Brown University Online Course Announcement Listserve 6-8 weeks prior to the start of each course. If you would like to be subscribed to this list, please contact Monte Bryant, Program Administrator, at Monte Bryant, or (401) 863-6606.

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