Under most circumstances in South Carolina, HIPAA law protects medical records. However, as the opioid crisis worsens in the U.S., there are new changes to the law that allow the release of your medical records when drugs are involved.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regulates the laws governing the health care industry and states that there are three instances when your medical records may be released without your consent. The first is if you are in any sort of danger or there is an emergency situation that requires immediate medical care and you are unable to provide consent. The second is if you are not capable of making conscious decisions based on your drug use, such as an overdose. The third is if you have provided the proper and legal authority to an individual to obtain your records, such as a parent or spouse.

While HIPAA laws exist to prevent your medical records from being shared or accessed by others in most situations, the opioid crisis has made some exceptions. These exceptions are in place to provide you with medical care and treatment if and when you are incapable of doing so yourself because of a drug-related activity. It is not a violation of your civil or legal rights as an individual. Any person who does obtain or share your records outside of the above stated situations is in breach of HIPAA and health care laws and may be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

This is general information meant to educate individuals and should not be taken as legal advice.