Change HIPAA rules dealing with addiction.

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As someone with a very close cousin who has battled addiction for 10 years now, it is obvious to me that the HIPAA Privacy Rule needs immediate change. The HIPAA Rule must change so that it allows patients’ families to be notified immediately of any medical issues/updates regarding the patient. I understand that it protects the patient’s rights, however, in a situation where someone, like my own cousin, is rushed to the hospital due to a drug overdose, these privacy rights should be thrown out the window. Families have the right to know what is going on with their loved one. My cousin has fortunately survived two overdoses, yet still refuses help and continues to use drugs like heroin. A person who uses drugs on a regular basis is clearly not in the right state of mind, and should not be granted the ability to sign themselves out of rehab, especially without any family members being notified of their whereabouts. There comes a certain point where a person’s well-being should be put before their privacy rights. Drug addicts can not make rational decisions and therefore it should not be their sole responsibility to make decisions regarding their health. Recently, my cousin was administered Narcan to save her life after she overdosed. She ordered the hospital to send her parents home and because of the HIPAA Rule, they had no choice but to leave. Because of my cousin’s right to “legal privacy,” she has the ability to sign herself out of the hospital without her parents being notified. This leaves her parents in the dark as to whether she is alive and safe, or has overdosed alone somewhere. One time, my cousin signed herself out of rehab and her parents were not even told that she had left the facility. Days later, her mother arrived at the rehab facility to visit and support her. It was not long until she realized that her daughter was missing. In 2017 alone, over 70,000 people died of drug overdoses. A number of them were able to escape from their families and go under the radar with the help of the HIPAA Rule. If we could help just a fraction of the victims of drug abuse, we could make an enormous change in society by saving many lives and creating worry free parents. The HIPAA Privacy Rule continues to allow people like my cousin to sneak away and obtain their next high, possibly their last. Please sign and make a difference.