Image of nurses' hands at computer keyboard

Physicians treating nursing home residents with substance abuse would have easier access to previous medical records under proposed revisions to a federal rule.

The Department of Health and Human Services recently proposed changes to a rule that protects records for patients treated by federally-assisted substance abuse programs. 

While the main framework for the rule will remain the same, the government said proposed changes look to improve coordinated care among providers while treating substance abuse in patients.

“The lack of critical substance use history in a patient’s medical record can lead to potentially damaging consequences for a person with a substance use disorder and can further stigmatize these conditions,” HHS Assistant Secretary Elinore McCance-Katz said. “This rule aims to ease the sharing of information, reduce burden for providers, and increase access to care for individuals while at the same time maintaining important privacy controls.”

The proposed rule change is in response to the ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States and was recommended by President Donald Trump’s commission on the crisis, the Associated Press reported. A recent study found that emergency room visits by seniors who misused opioids more than tripled between 2006 and 2014.