There are several laws that protect the confidentiality of a clients' information while they are in counseling or treatment and states that this information cannot be disclosed without written permission. Many of the privacy protections that come under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) are similar to what you already expect from your medical doctor or dentist - a complete copy of First Step's HIPAA policies will be given to you when you come for an assessment.
Furthermore, if you are receiving services for substance abuse, you are afforded additional protections by a stricter Code of Federal Regualtions known generally as 42CFR. If this will apply to you, you will also be given more detail when you engage in services.
In general - First Step will not disclose information about you or your treatment to anyone (except as needed for accepted busines practices such as billing) without your prior written consent and you will be asked to sign appropriate Releases of Information as this need arises. In most cases, you will be able to revoke this permission at any time but, since there are some exceptions, this would need to be discussed with program staff.
- Suspected child abuse or dependant adult or elder abuse, for which we am required by law to report to the appropriate authorities immediately.
- If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person/s, we must notify the police and inform the intended victim.
- If a client intends to harm himself or herself, we will make every effort to enlist their cooperation in insuring their safety. If they do not cooperate, we will take further measures without their permission as allowed by law in order to ensure their safety.