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Privacy and Confidentiality in Rhode Island

Privacy & Confidentiality

Rhode Island protects the privacy and confidentiality of personal health information by:

  • Classifying medical malpractice1 files health by the Rhode Island board of medical licensure and discipline and professional conduct files2 held by the Board of Licensure of Physician Assistants as confidential.
  • Requiring pharmacies3 and persons that receive a retired or deceased physician’s medical records to comply with the Confidentiality of Health Care Communications and Information Act.4
  • Requiring patients to consent, in writing, to the release of their health information unless otherwise provided by law.5
  • Classifying information maintained by medical peer review boards as confidential, not subject to discovery, and inadmissible as evidence in a legal proceeding.6
  • Establishing penalties for persons that violate the Confidentiality of Health Care Communications and Information Act,7 the Rhode Island Health Information Act,8 or the confidentiality requirements of the drug abuse reporting system.9
  • Requiring the director of health to establish regulations regarding the confidentiality of information held on Rhode Island’s Health Information Exchange10 and authorizing the Rhode Island Health Information Organization (RHIO) to enforce the HIE privacy and confidentiality policies.11
  • Offering anonymous, confidential HIV tests at HIV counseling, testing and referral services sites12 and requiring life and health insurers to comply with Rhode Island’s HIV law when obtaining or disclosing HIV test results.13
  • Classifying information maintained on Rhode Island’s drug abuse reporting system,14 used in the controlled substance therapeutic research program,15 maintained on the childhood immunization registry,16 maintained on the birth defects surveillance and information system,17 and maintained on the head and spinal cord injury registry18 as confidential.
  • Classifying patient safety information obtained by Patient Safety Organizations as confidential, privileged, and immune from discovery.19
  • Classifying alcohol treatment records as confidential.20
  • Granting health care facility and nursing home patients the right to the privacy and confidentiality of their records.21
  • Requiring independent community pharmacies that fill prescriptions for insured individuals to protect the individuals’ privacy.22
  • Classifying a Health Maintenance Organization subscriber’s “health care history, diagnosis, condition, treatment, or evaluation” as confidential health care information subject to the Confidentiality of Health Care Information Act.23
  • Classifying abuse and neglect record held by any Rhode Island agency24 as well as long-term care ombudsperson files as confidential.25

 

Footnotes

  • 1. Gen.Laws 1956, § 5-37-9; Gen.Laws 1956, § 5-37-9.1.
  • 2. Gen.Laws 1956, § 5-54-23.
  • 3. Gen.Laws 1956, § 5-19.1-17.
  • 4. Gen.Laws 1956, § 5-37-30.
  • 5. Gen.Laws 1956, § 5-37.3-4.
  • 6. Gen.Laws 1956, § 5-37.3-7.
  • 7. Gen.Laws 1956, § 5-37.3-9; Gen.Laws 1956, § 23-6.3-9.
  • 8. Gen.Laws 1956, § 5-37.7-13.
  • 9. Gen.Laws 1956, § 21-28.3-4.
  • 10. Gen.Laws 1956, § 5-37.7-5.
  • 11. Gen.Laws 1956, § 5-37.7-6.
  • 12. Gen.Laws 1956, § 23-6.3-3; Gen.Laws 1956, § 23-6.3-13.
  • 13. Gen.Laws 1956, § 23-6.3-16.
  • 14. Gen.Laws 1956, § 21-28.3-3.
  • 15. Gen.Laws 1956, § 21-28.4-1.
  • 16. Gen.Laws 1956, § 23-1-18.
  • 17. Gen.Laws 1956, § 23-13.3-3.
  • 18. Gen.Laws 1956, § 23-1-49.
  • 19. Gen.Laws 1956, § 23-17.21-7; Gen.Laws 1956, § 23-17.21-8.
  • 20. Gen.Laws 1956, § 23-1.10-13.
  • 21. Gen.Laws 1956, § 23-17-19.1; Gen.Laws 1956, § 23-17.5-14.
  • 22. Gen.Laws 1956, § 27-29.1-5.
  • 23. Gen.Laws 1956, § 27-41-22.
  • 24. Gen.Laws 1956, § 42-66-10.
  • 25. Gen.Laws 1956, § 42-66.7-6; Gen.Laws 1956, § 42-66.7-7.

 

Privacy and Confidentiality in Rhode Island

Subtopic Statute/Regulation Description
Privacy and Confidentiality Access to records, facility, resident - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 42-66.7-7 During an investigation, the long-term care ombudsperson must: (1) make inquiries and obtain information as necessary; (2) “have access to...
Appointment of guardian ad litem for incompetents - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 5-37.3-8 A court must appoint a guardian ad litem for a criminal defendant that is incompetent due their physical or mental condition and lack a...
Breach of confidentiality - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 21-28.3-4 Individuals that breach the confidentiality requirements of the “drug abuse reporting system” are guilty of a misdemeanor offense and...
Central database-Operation - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 5-19.1-17 Pharmacies may refill prescriptions that were originally dispensed at an affiliated pharmacy upon verifying the refill through a centralized database...
Closure of medical practice- Preservation of records - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 5-37-30 At least 90 days before closing their practice, a physician must provide public notice in a statewide newspaper regarding the disposition of patient...
Communications of information among health care facilities - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 5-37-28 Licensed health care facilities may disclose the circumstances surrounding the revocation of a physician’s privileges to another health care...
Confidentiality - 46-1-10 R.I. Code R. § 22 Records maintained by substance abuse prevention centered are confidential. This provision does not apply to substance abuse treatment facilities...
Confidentiality - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 21-28.3-3 Hospitals, physicians, and the director of health must ensure the confidentiality of individuals whose information they report to or maintain on the...
Confidentiality - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 23-6.3-7 Individuals must consent, in writing, to the release of their HIV test results. Such requirement does not apply to (1) laboratories or health care...
Confidentiality - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 42-66.7-6 Long-term care ombudsperson files are confidential and may only be disclosed upon the written consent of the affected resident, their representative...
Confidentiality of information - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 40.1-24-12 Provides that information received by the department of behavioral healthcare, developmental disabilities and hospitals shall not be disclosed in a...
Confidentiality of information and records - R.I. Gen. Laws § 40.1-24.5-11 Records and information relating to the mental health of an individual are confidential and privileged to the patient, and may only be disclosed in...
Confidentiality of records - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 42-66-10 Abuse and neglect record held by the department of elderly affairs or any other Rhode Island agency are confidential and are not considered public...
Confidentiality of records – Availability for research - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 23-1.10-13 Records regarding an individual’s registration at an alcohol treatment facility and all other matters are confidential. The director of the...
Confidentiality of records – Availability for research - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 23-1.10-13 Alcohol treatment records are confidential and privileged to the patient. Alcohol treatment information may be disclosed for research purposes,...
Confidentiality of reports - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 5-63.1-4 Reports and records regarding sexual misconduct by mental health professionals may only be disclosed for investigation or prosecution purposes to law...
Consistency with confidentiality of Health Care Information Act - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 40-8.2-15 An investigative demand issued by the attorney general in relation to an investigation of medical assistance fraud may not compel access to...
Continuous improvement of quality of care for individuals with stroke - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 27-78.1-6 The department of health must create a plan for “achieving continuous quality improvement in the quality of care provided under the statewide...
Controlled substances therapeutic research program established – Participation - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 21-28.4-1 Rhode Island authorizes the director of health (“director”) to administer the “controlled substance therapeutic research program....
Court proceedings- Confidential health care information - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 5-37.3-6.1 Health care providers and persons that maintain health care information may disclose confidential health care information pursuant to a subpoena so...
Denial, Suspension, Revocation of License, Curtailment of Activities or Cessation of Operation - 31-4-18 R.I. Code R. § 7 The Rhode Island Department of Health may suspend or revoke a hospital’s license due to their noncompliance with the hospital licensing...
Disclosure - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 5-37.7-7 Patients or their representatives must authorize the Health Information Exchange (HIE) to access, release, or transfer of their confidential health...
Exceptions to consent requirements - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 23-6.3-4 Health care providers may perform HIV testing without consent as follows: If the individual is under the age of one. If the individual shows...
Genetic information - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 27-18-52.1 Rhode Island defines “genetic information” as “information about genes, gene product, or inherited characteristics that may derive...
Genetic information - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 27-19-44.1 Rhode Island defines “genetic information” as “information about genes, gene product, or inherited characteristics that may derive...
Genetic information - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 27-20-39.1 Rhode Island defines “genetic information” as “information about genes, gene product, or inherited characteristics that may derive...
Genetic information - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 27-41-53.1 Rhode Island defines “genetic information” as “information about genes, gene product, or inherited characteristics that may derive...
Genetic testing - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 27-18-52 Rhode Island defines “genetic testing” as “the analysis of an individual's DNA, RNA, chromosomes, proteins and certain metabolites...
Genetic testing - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 27-19-44 Rhode Island defines “genetic testing” as “the analysis of an individual's DNA, RNA, chromosomes, proteins and certain metabolites...
Genetic testing - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 27-20-39 Rhode Island defines “genetic testing” as “the analysis of an individual's DNA, RNA, chromosomes, proteins and certain metabolites...
Genetic testing - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 27-41-53 Rhode Island defines “genetic testing” as “the analysis of an individual's DNA, RNA, chromosomes, proteins and certain metabolites...
HIV counseling, testing, referral and services sites (HIV CTRS) - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 23-6.3-13 The department of health must establish HIV counseling, testing, and referral services (HIV CTRS) sites that will provide individuals with anonymous...
HIV screening and testing of adults, adolescents, and pregnant women - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 23-6.3-3 All health care settings and HIV counseling, testing and referral services (HIV CTRS) must comply with the following provisions: HIV screening...
Hospital events reporting - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 23-17-40 Hospitals must report specified adverse events to the department of health within 24 hours of the event or within 24 hours of receiving information...
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing – Facilities for drug users - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 23-17-31.1 Providers at facilities that treat intravenous drug users must offer HIV testing in accordance with chapter 23-6.3 and federal confidentiality laws....
Insurance exception - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 23-6.3-16 Rhode Island exempts insurance companies that offer or sell life insurance within Rhode Island (“life insurers”) from complying with...
Laboratory analyses and reporting - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 23-6.3-15 Health care providers must send all biological specimens taken for HIV detection to the department of health’s lab unless the testing occurs at...
Legislative or administrative proceedings - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 5-37.3-6.2 A party may not compel the disclosure of confidential health care information in a legislative or administrative proceeding. A patient or their...
Licensed professionals discipline - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 5-69-10 Chemical dependency professionals must conduct their practice in accordance with the statute. The statute requires chemical dependency professionals...
Limitations on and permitted disclosures - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 5-37.3-4 Patients must consent, in writing, to the release of their health information unless otherwise provided in this section. Forms that authorize...
Medical peer review boards - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 5-37.3-7 Health care providers may disclose confidential health care information to medical peer review boards without obtaining authorization. Information...
Medical Records - 31-4-18 R.I. Code R. § 27 Licensed Rhode Island hospitals must: Appoint a “registered medical record administrator or a registered health information administrator (...
Medical Records - CRIR 14-090-007, § 27.12 Medical Records  A medical record must be created and maintained for every person treated on an inpatient, outpatient (ambulatory) or...
Notification of disclosure - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 23-6.3-10 A person disclosing an individual’s HIV results must inform the individual in advance of the nature and purpose of disclosure, the date of...
Notification of infectious disease - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 23-28.36-3 In the event that a police officer, fire fighter, or emergency medical technician is “occupationally exposed” while treating or...
Participation in the health information exchange - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 5-37.7-4 Rhode Island establishes a health information exchange (HIE) “to allow for electronic mobilization of confidential health care information...
Participation of independent community pharmacies - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 27-29.1-5 Pharmacies that do not participate in an insurer’s restricted pharmacy network contract (“independent community pharmacies”) may...
Penalties and remedies - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 23-6.3-9 Violations of §§ 23-6.3-7 and 23-6.3-8 regarding the confidentiality and protection of HIV records will be subject to the penalties...
Penalties- Attorney’s fees for violations - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 5-37.3-9 Persons that violate the Confidentiality of Health Care Communications and Information Act may be civilly liable for actual and exemplary damages....
Penalties- Attorney’s fees for violations - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 5-37.7-13 Persons that violate the Rhode Island Health Information Act of 2008 may be civilly liable for actual and exemplary damages while persons that...
Power to provide rules and regulations in specific areas - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 23-1-18 The Department of Health has the authority to establish a childhood immunization registry and require the reporting of childhood immunization data....
Privilege and confidentiality protections - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 23-17.21-8 “Patient safety work product” and the corresponding document log are confidential and privileged and thus (1) not subject to discovery or...
Protection of records - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 23-6.3-8 Health care providers, public health officials, and other persons that maintain records containing HIV test results must ensure the confidentiality...
Registry of persons with head injuries and/or spinal cord injuries - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 23-1-49 The department of health must establish a head and spinal cord injury registry and mandate the reporting of such injuries. All reported information...
Regulatory oversight - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 5-37.7-5 Rhode Island grants the department of health the authority to administer the health information exchange (HIE). Pursuant to this authority, the...
Reporting requirements for the healthcare database - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 23-17.17-10 Insurers, health care providers, insurers, and governmental agencies must file reports, data, schedules, and other information necessary to carry out...
Reports relating to professional conduct and capacity – Regulations – Confidentiality – Immunity - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 5-54-23 The Board of Licensure of Physician Assistants (“board”) must establish regulations that require various health care professionals,...
Reports relating to professional conduct and capacity- Regulations- Confidentiality- Immunity - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 5-37-9 The Rhode Island board of medical licensure and discipline (“board”) may establish regulations that require various health care...
Requirements for patient safety organizations - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 23-17.21-7 Every Patient Safety Organization (PSO) must obtain certification by the department of health before contracting with a “reporting entity...
Requirements relating to professional conduct - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 5-37-9.1 The Rhode Island board of medical licensure and discipline (“board”) must maintain confidential files on physicians that contain the...
Rhode Island health information organization - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 5-37.7-6 The Rhode Island Health Information Organization (RHIO) must implement “recognized national standards for interoperability,” oversee...
Right to Privacy - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 23-17.5-14 Nursing home patients have the right to the privacy and confidentiality of all their records. Patients must approve the release of their records...
Rights of patients - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 23-17-19.1 Rhode Island grants health care facility patients numerous rights, including: The right to receive, upon request, the name of the physician that...
Secondary disclosure - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 5-37.7-9 Providers that obtain confidential health care information from the health information exchange (HIE) may disclose the information, without patient...
Security - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 5-37.7-8 The Rhode Island Health Information Exchange (HIE) must comply, at minimum with the following security measures: (1) “authenticate the...
Statewide birth defects surveillance and information system - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 23-13.3-3 The director of the department of health must create a birth defects surveillance and information system in order to collect data regarding birth...
Statutory construction and relationship to other laws - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 27-41-22 A Health Maintenance Organization subscriber’s “health care history, diagnosis, condition, treatment, or evaluation” is...
Transfer and amendment of information - R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 5-37.3-5 A third party may transfer a patient’s confidential health care information to a designated physician upon the occurrence of an event that...