Does Rehab Show up on Medical Records?

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Does Rehab Show up on Medical Records? 

No, unless the individual gives written consent to release the permanent record to a third party or a court order to reveal such information. Nobody, including schools or future employers, are given access to information for a rehabilitation programme for drug and alcohol treatment. 

A patient has the right to request for the rehab centre records to be withheld. An individual may want to feel protected when signing up for a treatment programme, and part of the protection is keeping personal health information confidential. 

Having peace of mind that privacy is in wraps can ease the stress with confidential help. 

GDPR, Laws, and Medical Records 

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of 2018 is a European law that controls the way organizations, including healthcare providers, collect, store, and share patients' data or health information. [1] 

It allows the individual to control their Personally Identifiable Information (PII), including the name, identification number, location, and online identifier. GDPR focuses on protecting a patient's' PII.

Any organization or entity handling an EU patient's information must abide by the GDPR. 

This federal law also prevents entities from disclosing a patient(s) health information without consent and promotes the portability and responsibility of insurance coverages for workers between jobs.  

The GDPR incorporates security and privacy laws on information in a patient's’ health record.

The details of an individual, including the specific treatment centre, health status, and how they paid the bills, are examples of health information that may identify such individuals.  

This federal assistance is growing stronger as the Data Protection Act controls how organizations, caregivers, entities, businesses, and governments, use your personal information. [2] 

The accountability act established a national standard with confidential laws for treatment providers and covered entities to adopt for disease control.

Examples of such entities are claims processing centres, billing departments, healthcare plans, and utilisation reviews.  

In this era of technological advancement, where health information is exchanged electronically between healthcare providers, the GDPR is upright to safeguard the permanent record of a drug abuser. 

It is the right of an individual to keep their information private, regardless of why they seek treatment. 

The Privacy Rule of this law allows the conventional handling of personal information in a medical system while safeguarding the patient's privacy. [3] 

If the individual wishes to release information on their rehab stay, they have the right to do so. 

Medical Records and Background Checks 

Drug and alcohol treatment will not show up on drug abuse patient records. But if the person committed a treasonable offence or is under criminal proceedings, it may come up during a background check.

With the high rate of substance addiction and treatment, some people do not feel comfortable disclosing information on rehab treatment due to the stigma of alcohol and drug abuse. 

Is Drug Rehab Confidential? 

Yes. There are additional protections on privacy and security for individuals undergoing a treatment plan for Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). 

The federal regulations are in place for related issues using SUD details in domestic or criminal activities. [3] 

With the regulation, the SUD information of an individual in rehab cannot be revealed to a third party without consent, as it may lead to severe consequences and stall treatment.  

It is an offence for addiction treatment providers to violate this federal law and regulations, as violators risk sanctions from the appropriate authorities. 

When signing up for substance abuse programs, the admission specialist will brief the individual on necessary information. The patient involved will sign paperwork to confirm understanding of personal rights. 

You may be interested in: Is alcohol rehab confidential? 

Reasons Why People want to keep Rehab Confidential 

There are several reasons why people might not want to release rehab information to others. Some of which include:   

  • The stigma and shame of addiction and substance abuse    
  • Future employment      
  • Fear of a record. 

But there is nothing to worry about since laws are in place to protect private information and loved ones. 

See our guide to alcohol rehab treatment at Abbeycare.

Drug Use and Doctor-Patient Confidentiality 

The doctor-patient privilege is vital information given to a doctor about the health status and other confidential information, which may occur during the doctor’s appointment.

The detail is protected, and the doctor cannot call for an arrest.  

There are related laws to protect everyone from an addiction treatment centre disclosing such details to non-treatment entities.

To achieve total recovery and receive support, be honest and disclose all information to a physician.  

The doctor might recommend some treatment or therapies but cannot call to arrest the person for substance abuse. 

A physician may recommend patients for evaluation in a specific treatment centre listing for a medical emergency. Patients in this category are treated, stabilized, medically cleared, and successfully rehabilitated. 


Does Health Insurance Cover Alcohol or Drug Addiction Rehab? 

Yes. Health insurance covers rehabilitation due to the illegal use of drugs and other forms of mental health treatment. However, the level of coverage on alcohol and drugs rehab depends on some factors.

They include rehab treatment providers, policy's health benefits, and particular needs. 

You may be interested in: Does insurance cover alcohol rehab?

Consent forms from health care providers 

Consent forms allow the mental health services administration to disclose the health information to family members. The rehab centre provides information on this.

The family needs to discuss with the doctor about a rehab stay, but if not acceptable, they do not share such information with anyone. 

Consent forms specify who should know about the health information and what purpose. It also states the kind and level of information to be shared.

If the individual wants the spouse to be aware of the treatment options and human services, the consent form will include the spouse identity and PII from the health record. 

In this case, the patient has not given consent to disclose information on the illegal use of drugs. Such details will remain confidential. 

Explicit consent from the EU data subjects for interaction outside an individual's care is necessary before disclosing information about the patient.

It also applies to communication and marketing between the data subjects and providers. 

The revoking of a consent form takes place at any time but communicating with the treatment provider is vital. It is written or orally and documented for the record’s purpose.  

Concerns are not given to the healthcare providers at addiction treatment centres because they are well-trained to ensure the complete protection of privacy backed by law. 

At What Point Should Information Protected by the Health Insurance Portability be Disclosed? 

Some circumstances allow the unusual disclosure of PII, such as receiving treatment from a Qualified Service Organization (QSOA) that imbibes a Health Information Exchange (HIE) network and offers different services.   

In the HIE network, data sharing is vital, and a written agreement binds all QSOA's to abide by the listed policies. 

Everyone responsible for storing personal data must abide by the Data Protection Principles. 

Such information is: 

  • Used for specific purposes only 
  • Used lawfully, fairly, and transparently 
  • Updated frequently and used adequately 
  • Not kept for personal purposes 
  • Protected from unlawful access. 

Penalties for Disclosing Information 

The doctors, health centres, treatment entities, and other organizations are sanctioned under Article 33 of the GDPR Laws if they disclose the PII without a patient's consent and fail to report the same to the appropriate authorities within 72-hours.

Such sanctions are financial penalties or corrective action plans by the supervisory authority. [4] 

These penalties prevent a breach of federal laws and protect patient safety, privacy and confidential health care information.  

Safeguard Reputation with Effective Addiction Treatment 

Most people are worried that rehab will dent their records, but this information does not display for public viewing.

However, drugs abuse can have a prolonged stain and damage the reputation of a person's record if involved in criminal activities. 

With the advancement in technology, all it takes is to publish the photo on social media or contact a paid advertiser to dent his image for several years. Treating drug or alcohol addiction will prevent this. 

So, the first step to quitting is to make sure that such a person is no longer engaging in illegal drug use.

For successful rehab treatment, the individual needs a confidant like a spouse - even if there are no longer engaged to talk with through the treatment process. 

Parental substance use abuse leads to various forms of child abuse, including emotional, sexual, physical, and neglect. 

Parents with substance abuse problems cannot take care of their children due to: 

  • lack of physical and mental coordination caused by alcohol and drugs 
  • difficulty in controlling anger and emotions 
  • lack of funds to settle bills stemming from excess spending on alcohol and drugs 
  • the time spent outside the home using these substances. 

Choose Whom You Want to Know 

In drug rehab, patients control who knows about their health care treatment. However, it is beneficial to inform certain people about it. 

For instance,   

  • Family      
  • Spouse      
  • Employer (with a few exceptions)      
  • Insurance company. 

As the law demands, addiction is perceived as a disability and treated as such. So, the law prohibits people, including an employer, from discriminating against a drug addict, provided the individual desire to stay sober. 

An option of keeping the treatment program private is in place, which requires completing the health plans and asking for medical leave to seek confidential help. 

A partial hospitalisation programme is also available to further maintain privacy, as it does not require leaving a job. To receive medical care as an outpatient erases concerns about a paper trail since the individual is still working as usual. 

The financial records kept by an insurance company will only reveal basic details, which are maintained for some time for validation purposes and cannot be disclosed to anyone unless on consent.

What Next After Drug and Alcohol Rehab? 

After the alcohol rehab treatment, it is up to the individual to decide whether to disclose it to anyone or take the secret to the grave, but there are times they have to let it out.  

Such times are when the person has:    

  • Skills deficits      
  • A large unexplained gap in a resume      
  • A criminal record. 

In present circumstances, considerations are given to such situations if they arise.

Findings by career professionals reveal that several employers prefer to hire people in recovery because they give back to society more than other employees. 

Does rehab display on public records? The answer is, no, it does not unless an employer or a court system asked for it.

A successful rehabilitation in addiction recovery means there is a reason to celebrate rather than thinking rehab is a mark of shame.  

Abbeycare Pricing Bot

About the author

Laura Morris

Laura Morris is an experienced clinical practitioner and CQC Registered Manager with over twenty years experience, over ten of which have been as an Independent Nurse Prescriber.

She has held a number of senior leadership roles in the substance use and mental health sector in the NHS, the prison service and in leading social enterprises in the field.

Last Updated: October 31, 2023