A N A C T
RELATING TO MENTAL HEALTH LAW
SECTION 1. Section 40.1-5-26 of the General Laws in Chapter 40.1-5 entitled "Mental Health Law" is hereby amended to read as follows:
40.1-5-26. Disclosure of confidential information and records -- (a) The fact of admission or certification and all information and records compiled, obtained, or maintained in the course of providing services to persons under this chapter shall be confidential.
(b) Information and records may be disclosed only:
(1) To any person, with the written consent of the patient or his or her guardian.
(2) In communications among qualified medical or mental health professionals in the provision of services or appropriate referrals, or in the course of court proceedings. The consent of the patient, or his or her guardian, must be obtained before information or records may be disclosed by a professional person employed by a facility to a professional person not employed by the facility who does not have the medical responsibility for the patient's care.
(3) When the person receiving services, or his or her guardian, designates persons to whom information or records may be released, or if the person is a minor, when his or her parents or guardian make the designation.
(4) To the extent necessary for a recipient to make a claim, or for a claim to be made on behalf of a recipient for aid, insurance, or medical assistance to which he or she may be entitled.
(5) To proper medical authorities for the purpose of providing emergency medical treatment where the person's life or health are in immediate jeopardy.
(6) For program evaluation and/or research, provided that the director adopts rules for the conduct of the evaluations and/or research. The rules shall include, but need not be limited to, the requirement that all evaluators and researchers must sign an oath of confidentiality, agreeing not to divulge, publish, or otherwise make known, to unauthorized persons or the public, any information obtained in the course of the evaluation or research regarding persons who have received services such that the person who received the services is identifiable.
(7) To the courts and persons designated by judges thereof in accordance with applicable rules of procedure. The records and files maintained in any court proceeding pursuant to this chapter shall be confidential and available only to the person who was the subject of the proceeding or his or her attorney.
(8) To the state medical examiner in connection with the investigation of a fatality of a current or former patient to the extent necessary to assist the medical examiner in determining the cause of death.
(9) To the director of health in accordance with and to the extent authorized by the provisions of chapter 37.3 of title 5 and all applicable federal laws and regulations, provided however that with respect to any information obtained, the department shall comply with all state and federal confidentiality laws, including but not limited to, chapter 37.3 of title 5 and specifically section 5-37.3-4(c), and that the name or name(s) of the patient(s) who is or are determined by the director of health to be immaterial to the request, inquiry or investigation remain unidentifiable. Any treatment facility which provides information to the director of health in accord with a request under this subsection shall not be liable for wrongful disclosure arising out of any subsequent disclosure by the director of health.
and provided that the treatment facility is immune from any liability from cases that emanate from the disclosure and use of confidential information by the director of health and/or her or his agents.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon passage.