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Complete Overview of Regulations: 42 CFR Part 2
Court Orders Authorizing Disclosure and Use: Disclosure of Confidential Communications


a.) Disclosure of Confidential Communications

A court order may not authorize disclosure of confidential communications made by a patient to a program during diagnosis, treatment, or referral for treatment unless the disclosure is:

  • Necessary to protect against a threat to life or of serious bodily injury;156
  • Necessary in connection with the investigation or prosecution of an extremely serious crime, such as one that directly threatens loss of life or serious bodily injury;157 or

In connection with litigation or an administrative proceeding where the patient offers testimony or other evidence related to the content of the confidential communications.158



  • 156. 42 CFR § 2.63(a)(1). Note: “a threat to life or of serious bodily injury” includes verbal threats made against third parties, and “serious bodily injury” includes suspected child abuse or neglect.
  • 157. 42 CFR § 2.63(a)(2). Note: an extremely serious crime includes homicide, rape, kidnapping, armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, or child abuse and neglect.
  • 158. 42 CFR § 2.63(a)(3).