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Essay on Confidentiality Law


With the changes in society and technological advancements, privacy has become a premium need for most people. It seems as if technology has slowly but gradually rendered privacy a thing of the past, making confidentiality noble. Still, even without the intrusive nature of technology, confidentiality has been part and parcel of human society, with laws put in place to protect or safeguard the same. Confidentiality rules become quite complicated when it comes to drug abuse and mental health matters. This is because there is usually a class between the confidentiality rules relating to sharing of information between mental health providers concerning the confidentiality rules between the various states.


Rehabilitation and mental health institutions are usually expected to work as a unit, especially when it involves chronic cases. They are supposed to share information and records about patients if there is any transfer program or for the sake of ensuring the best possible method of handling the patients. They are supposed to do this while upholding the fundamental human values of their patients. Fundamental values of human service sectors include dignity, the welfare of all, honoring diversity, ensuring honesty, and respecting privacy. Different laws or policies have been instituted to ensure confidentiality in service provision, including HIPAA, CFR-42, and FERPA. Safeguarding information gathered in the domain of human service relationships is paramount towards the acknowledgment of the rights of every individual.

As a concept, confidentiality is about individual privacy and respect for people’s wishes. In human services, information shared within established relationships is not meant to be shared beyond the defined boundaries or parties involved (Corey, Corey & Callanan, 2010). For instance, in the helping process, what a client tells a social worker, should not be revealed to others, and it’s a professional’s responsibility to keep exchanged details confidential. Confidentiality also extends to other fields, such as education, where the information about a student is supposed to be kept private by the school unless it gets shared under extraordinary circumstances (Corey, Corey & Callanan, 2010). Parents and guardians might share such information with the institution to ensure their children are handled properly or understood in a given way.

Examples of confidentiality laws include the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), such as the CFR-42, which governs the privacy of patients with substance use disorder (SUD). For years, federal laws have protected the rights to privacy of individuals seeking treatment for substance abuse in federally assisted programs (Campbell et al., 2019). Confidentiality is the cornerstone of health intervention and relationships for such a population. Strict confidentiality protection means clients can share data about their past and present drug use without worrying the information could be used against them by the police, judges, social workers, or employers. As an element of privacy, the law is quite strict on it.

Another confidentiality law is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Just like CFR-42, HIPAA is also a federal regulation established in 1996 and demands the creation of standards to protect patient health information from being exposed without owners’ consent (Reamer, 2018). The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) generally works to safeguard the transmission of electronic records. HIPAA and CFR-42 laws stipulate that individuals are entitled to confidentiality unless they permit information disclosure. HIPAA applies to care practitioners in healthcare and many types of patient data, unlike CFR-42, which governs the SUB information. However, HIPAA is less protective of people’s privacy compared to CFR-42.

Comparing the HIPAA and the CFR-42, it is worth noting that whereas the HIPAA offers the minimum confidentiality restrictions, the CFR-42 offers the maximum. For CFR-42, only a special court order can allow an individual’s confidential information to be shared with law enforcement or the court. In this case, not even a general court order holds water. CFR-2 usually makes a follow-up on the shared information and, in turn, holds the recipient of the information to be responsible in case of any breach. However, HIPAA covers several types of patient records, making it a bit light on enforcement.

Furthermore, concerning confidentiality in human service fields, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a vital federal law that applies in the education sector. FERPA governs schools that benefit from funds under the United States Department of Education (Altman et al., 2018). Under this policy, parents have certain rights with respect to children’s academic records, but such privileges are transferred to students upon reaching the age of 18- considered eligible learners. Therefore, according to FERPA, confidentiality is maintained on education records relating to students and maintained by an institution.

Until a society successfully eliminates stigma and criminalization of issues like substance use disorders, patients have the right to receive services without disclosing their records. Maintaining confidentiality in human service departments is essential to prevent the misuse of crucial data through illegal or immoral practices, enhancing a good reputation. Failure to follow confidentiality laws like HIPAA, CFR-42, or FERPA could result in dire consequences. They include termination of employment for workers, civil lawsuits after pressed charges by third parties, and vulnerabilities to information owners (Moore & Frye, 2019). On the contrary, some barriers to following confidentiality law aspects may exist. Despite efforts to ensure privacy protection, sometimes breaching confidentiality is unavoidable but not unethical. For example, when clients pose self-harm dangers or confess threats to others, safeguarding such details becomes impossible (Corey, Corey & Callanan, 2010). The information has to be released and shared amongst the responsible parties for the greater good of the stakeholders and the person in question too.


Data and information are the gold and silver of the present society. It takes a lot of effort to safeguard it, from the law to how it is stored. Any field that is related to human services is under an obligation to protect personal information of the people they serve, from students to patients. Human service fields such as medicine and Education are developed in response to people’s needs and solving problems. Care providers offer assistance to different clients within the contexts of their environments or communities while promoting unique values and characteristics. The only way to access confidential information is either through the consent of the required authority as per the law, or through an exception rule to it. In doing so, it is integral to uphold professional ethics and integrity in promoting people’s well-being by following necessary laws. From a legal and ethical perspective, therefore, it is just important to uphold the confidentiality of whoever one meets, especially from a professional standing.


Altman, M., Wood, A. B., O’Brien, D., & Gasser, U. (2018). Practical approaches to big data privacy over time. International Data Privacy Law0(0), 1-24.

Campbell, A., McCarty, D., Rieckmann, T., McNeely, J., Rotrosen, J., Wu, L., & Bart, G. (2019). Interpretation and integration of the federal substance use privacy protection rule in integrated health systems: A qualitative analysis. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment97, 41-46.

Moore, W., & Frye, S. (2019). Review of HIPAA, part 1: history, protected health information, and privacy and security rules. Journal of nuclear medicine technology47(4), 269-272.

Reamer, F. G. (2018). Ethical issues in integrated health care: Implications for social workers. Health & Social Work43(2), 118-124.

Corey, G., Corey, M. S., & Callanan, P. (2010). Issues and ethics in the helping professions. Cengage Learning.


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