On October 27, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' ("HHS") Office for Civil Rights published a bulletin providing guidance to health care providers on how to comply with HIPAA's Privacy Rule when a patient is incapacitated or in crisis due to an opioid overdose. The guidelines detail exceptions to the Privacy Rule that can be triggered by an unconscious patient or one facing serious threats to his health and safety. In these cases, certain relevant health information can be shared with family and friends to gather information on the overdose or to mitigate the risk of continued opioid use after discharge.

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