71.05.385  <<  71.05.390 >>   71.05.420

RCW 71.05.390

Confidential information and records — Disclosure. (Effective until July 1, 2014.)

Except as provided in this section, RCW 71.05.445, 71.05.630, 70.96A.150, 71.05.385, 74.09.295, or pursuant to a valid release under RCW 70.02.030, the fact of admission and all information and records compiled, obtained, or maintained in the course of providing services to either voluntary or involuntary recipients of services at public or private agencies shall be confidential.

     Information and records may be disclosed only:

     (1) In communications between qualified professional persons to meet the requirements of this chapter, in the provision of services or appropriate referrals, or in the course of guardianship proceedings. The consent of the person, or his or her personal representative or guardian, shall be obtained before information or records may be disclosed by a professional person employed by a facility unless provided to a professional person:

     (a) Employed by the facility;

     (b) Who has medical responsibility for the patient's care;

     (c) Who is a designated mental health professional;

     (d) Who is providing services under chapter 71.24 RCW;

     (e) Who is employed by a state or local correctional facility where the person is confined or supervised; or

     (f) Who is providing evaluation, treatment, or follow-up services under chapter 10.77 RCW.

     (2) When the communications regard the special needs of a patient and the necessary circumstances giving rise to such needs and the disclosure is made by a facility providing services to the operator of a facility in which the patient resides or will reside.

     (3)(a) 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 make such designation.

     (b) A public or private agency shall release to a person's next of kin, attorney, personal representative, guardian, or conservator, if any:

     (i) The information that the person is presently a patient in the facility or that the person is seriously physically ill;

     (ii) A statement evaluating the mental and physical condition of the patient, and a statement of the probable duration of the patient's confinement, if such information is requested by the next of kin, attorney, personal representative, guardian, or conservator; and

     (iii) Such other information requested by the next of kin or attorney as may be necessary to decide whether or not proceedings should be instituted to appoint a guardian or conservator.

     (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)(a) For either program evaluation or research, or both: PROVIDED, That the secretary adopts rules for the conduct of the evaluation or research, or both. Such rules shall include, but need not be limited to, the requirement that all evaluators and researchers must sign an oath of confidentiality substantially as follows:

     "As a condition of conducting evaluation or research concerning persons who have received services from (fill in the facility, agency, or person) I, . . . . . . . . ., agree not to divulge, publish, or otherwise make known to unauthorized persons or the public any information obtained in the course of such evaluation or research regarding persons who have received services such that the person who received such services is identifiable.

     I recognize that unauthorized release of confidential information may subject me to civil liability under the provisions of state law.

  /s/ . . . . . . . . . . . . "

     (b) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit the compilation and publication of statistical data for use by government or researchers under standards, including standards to assure maintenance of confidentiality, set forth by the secretary.

     (6)(a) To the courts as necessary to the administration of this chapter or to a court ordering an evaluation or treatment under chapter 10.77 RCW solely for the purpose of preventing the entry of any evaluation or treatment order that is inconsistent with any order entered under this chapter.

     (b) To a court or its designee in which a motion under chapter 10.77 RCW has been made for involuntary medication of a defendant for the purpose of competency restoration.

     (c) Disclosure under this subsection is mandatory for the purpose of the health insurance portability and accountability act.

     (7)(a) When a mental health professional is requested by a representative of a law enforcement or corrections agency, including a police officer, sheriff, community corrections officer, a municipal attorney, or prosecuting attorney to undertake an investigation or provide treatment under RCW 71.05.150, 10.31.110, or 71.05.153, the mental health professional shall, if requested to do so, advise the representative in writing of the results of the investigation including a statement of reasons for the decision to detain or release the person investigated. Such written report shall be submitted within seventy-two hours of the completion of the investigation or the request from the law enforcement or corrections representative, whichever occurs later.

     (b) Disclosure under this subsection is mandatory for the purposes of the health insurance portability and accountability act.

     (8) To the attorney of the detained person.

     (9) To the prosecuting attorney as necessary to carry out the responsibilities of the office under RCW 71.05.330(2) and71.05.340 (1)(b) and 71.05.335. The prosecutor shall be provided access to records regarding the committed person's treatment and prognosis, medication, behavior problems, and other records relevant to the issue of whether treatment less restrictive than inpatient treatment is in the best interest of the committed person or others. Information shall be disclosed only after giving notice to the committed person and the person's counsel.

     (10)(a) To appropriate law enforcement agencies and to a person, when the identity of the person is known to the public or private agency, whose health and safety has been threatened, or who is known to have been repeatedly harassed, by the patient. The person may designate a representative to receive the disclosure. The disclosure shall be made by the professional person in charge of the public or private agency or his or her designee and shall include the dates of commitment, admission, discharge, or release, authorized or unauthorized absence from the agency's facility, and only such other information that is pertinent to the threat or harassment. The decision to disclose or not shall not result in civil liability for the agency or its employees so long as the decision was reached in good faith and without gross negligence.

     (b) Disclosure under this subsection is mandatory for the purposes of the health insurance portability and accountability act.

     (11)(a) To appropriate corrections and law enforcement agencies all necessary and relevant information in the event of a crisis or emergent situation that poses a significant and imminent risk to the public. The decision to disclose or not shall not result in civil liability for the mental health service provider or its employees so long as the decision was reached in good faith and without gross negligence.

     (b) Disclosure under this subsection is mandatory for the purposes of the health insurance portability and accountability act.

     (12) To the persons designated in RCW 71.05.425 and 71.05.385 for the purposes described in those sections.

     (13) Civil liability and immunity for the release of information about a particular person who is committed to the department under RCW 71.05.280(3) and 71.05.320(3)(c) after dismissal of a sex offense as defined in RCW 9.94A.030, is governed by RCW 4.24.550.

     (14) Upon the death of a person, his or her next of kin, personal representative, guardian, or conservator, if any, shall be notified.

     Next of kin who are of legal age and competent shall be notified under this section in the following order: Spouse, parents, children, brothers and sisters, and other relatives according to the degree of relation. Access to all records and information compiled, obtained, or maintained in the course of providing services to a deceased patient shall be governed by RCW 70.02.140.

     (15) To the department of health for the purposes of determining compliance with state or federal licensure, certification, or registration rules or laws. However, the information and records obtained under this subsection are exempt from public inspection and copying pursuant to chapter 42.56 RCW.

     (16) To mark headstones or otherwise memorialize patients interred at state hospital cemeteries. The department of social and health services shall make available the name, date of birth, and date of death of patients buried in state hospital cemeteries fifty years after the death of a patient.

     (17) To law enforcement officers and to prosecuting attorneys as are necessary to enforce RCW 9.41.040(2)(a)(ii). The extent of information that may be released is limited as follows:

     (a) Only the fact, place, and date of involuntary commitment, an official copy of any order or orders of commitment, and an official copy of any written or oral notice of ineligibility to possess a firearm that was provided to the person pursuant to RCW 9.41.047(1), shall be disclosed upon request;

     (b) The law enforcement and prosecuting attorneys may only release the information obtained to the person's attorney as required by court rule and to a jury or judge, if a jury is waived, that presides over any trial at which the person is charged with violating RCW 9.41.040(2)(a)(ii);

     (c) Disclosure under this subsection is mandatory for the purposes of the health insurance portability and accountability act.

     (18) When a patient would otherwise be subject to the provisions of this section and disclosure is necessary for the protection of the patient or others due to his or her unauthorized disappearance from the facility, and his or her whereabouts is unknown, notice of such disappearance, along with relevant information, may be made to relatives, the department of corrections when the person is under the supervision of the department, and governmental law enforcement agencies designated by the physician or psychiatric advanced registered nurse practitioner in charge of the patient or the professional person in charge of the facility, or his or her professional designee.

     Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the uniform health care information act, chapter 70.02 RCW, applies to all records and information compiled, obtained, or maintained in the course of providing services.

     (19) The fact of admission, as well as all records, files, evidence, findings, or orders made, prepared, collected, or maintained pursuant to this chapter shall not be admissible as evidence in any legal proceeding outside this chapter without the written consent of the person who was the subject of the proceeding except as provided in RCW 71.05.385, in a subsequent criminal prosecution of a person committed pursuant to RCW 71.05.280(3) or 71.05.320(3)(c) on charges that were dismissed pursuant to chapter 10.77 RCW due to incompetency to stand trial, in a civil commitment proceeding pursuant to chapter 71.09 RCW, or, in the case of a minor, a guardianship or dependency proceeding. The records and files maintained in any court proceeding pursuant to this chapter shall be confidential and available subsequent to such proceedings only to the person who was the subject of the proceeding or his or her attorney. In addition, the court may order the subsequent release or use of such records or files only upon good cause shown if the court finds that appropriate safeguards for strict confidentiality are and will be maintained.

[2011 c 305 § 4. Prior: 2009 c 320 § 3; 2009 c 217 § 6; 2007 c 375 § 15; prior: 2005 c 504 § 109; 2005 c 453 § 5; 2005 c 274 § 346; prior: 2004 c 166 § 6; 2004 c 157 § 5; 2004 c 33 § 2; prior: 2000 c 94 § 9; 2000 c 75 § 6; 2000 c 74 § 7; 1999 c 12 § 1; 1998 c 297 § 22; 1993 c 448 § 6; 1990 c 3 § 112; 1986 c 67 § 8; 1985 c 207 § 1; 1983 c 196 § 4; 1979 ex.s. c 215 § 17; 1975 1st ex.s. c 199 § 10; 1974 ex.s. c 145 § 27; 1973 1st ex.s. c 142 § 44.]


     Findings -- 2011 c 305: See note following RCW 74.09.295.

     Conflict with federal requirements -- 2009 c 320: See note following RCW 71.05.020.

     Findings -- Purpose -- Construction -- Severability -- 2007 c 375: See notes following RCW 10.31.110.

     Findings--Intent--Severability--Application--Construction--Captions, part headings, subheadings not law--Adoption of rules--Effective dates -- 2005 c 504: See notes following RCW 71.05.027.

     Alphabetization--Correction of references--2005 c 504: See note following RCW 71.05.020.

     Severability -- 2005 c 453: See note following RCW 9.41.040.

     Part headings not law -- Effective date--2005 c 274: See RCW 42.56.901 and 42.56.902.

     Severability -- Effective dates -- 2004 c 166: See notes following RCW 71.05.040.

     Findings -- Intent -- Severability -- Effective date -- 2004 c 157: See notes following RCW 10.77.010.

     Finding -- Intent -- 2004 c 33: "The legislature finds that social stigmas surrounding mental illness have prevented patients buried in the state hospital cemeteries from being properly memorialized. From 1887 to 1953, the state buried many of the patients who died while in residence at the three state hospitals on hospital grounds. In order to honor these patients, the legislature intends that the state be allowed to release records necessary to appropriately mark their resting place." [2004 c 33 § 1.]

     Intent -- 2000 c 75: See note following RCW 71.05.445.

     Severability -- 2000 c 74: See note following RCW 10.77.060.

     Effective dates -- Severability -- Intent -- 1998 c 297: See notes following RCW 71.05.010.

     Effective date -- 1993 c 448: See note following RCW 70.02.010.

     Index, part headings not law -- Severability -- Effective dates -- Application -- 1990 c 3: See RCW 18.155.900 through 18.155.902.