Waukesha, WI asked in Civil Rights and Health Care Law for Wisconsin

Q: Does an outpatient county mobile crisis counselor need to give HIPAA and ADA notices prior to services beginning?

If a person is admitted to an IMD under the emergency DHS chapter 34 - emergency rule, the State of Wisconsin makes an exception for the IMD or hospital to hold off giving patient their rights until a patient is stable. Under the DHS 34, inpatient rights can be delayed and provided or given at a time when a patient can be assessed and found to be competent and stable. I don't see anything written that makes that same exception for an outpatient client with a mobile crisis service. It doesn't seem appropriate to mail a patient all of their rights 17 days after the contact through USPS. By the time the rights are received with 3 days to allow for the mail, the patient has lost 20 of the 45 days left to file an internal grievance. The outpatient unit, if they discharged the patient, has no idea if the patient is stable at the time they are mailing the rights, after no contact. Somehow, I don't feel that the exception allowed by the emergency rule for inpatient care should apply.

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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A: In Wisconsin, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements apply to outpatient services, including mobile crisis counseling. Generally, these regulations mandate that providers inform patients of their rights under HIPAA and the ADA at the outset of treatment.

For outpatient services, there's no specific exception like the one you mentioned for inpatient care under DHS chapter 34. This means that mobile crisis services should ideally provide HIPAA and ADA notices as soon as reasonably possible, preferably at the first point of contact or shortly thereafter.

If there's a delay in providing these notices, as in your scenario of 17 days, it could potentially impact the patient's ability to understand and exercise their rights timely, including filing grievances.

The service provider should ensure that the patient is informed of their rights in a timely manner, which is crucial for compliance with legal requirements and for safeguarding the patient's interests.

If you believe that your rights, or those of someone you know, have been violated due to delayed notification of these rights, it may be beneficial to speak with an attorney who has experience in health law and patients' rights. They can provide guidance specific to the situation and help in understanding the legal options available.

Remember, timely access to information about one's rights is a crucial part of patient care and is mandated by law to ensure that patients are treated fairly and are aware of their options.

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