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Army: To Reduce Suicides, Share Mental Health Info

HEALTHCARE PRIVACY—U.S.

April 1, 2011

Army officials say knowing more about soldiers' mental health will help to prevent suicides, the rates of which doubled after 2004. But that thinking is troubling to some who say army access to mental health records may deter soldiers from seeking help if they feel their privacy is being violated, USA TODAY reports. Though HIPAA protects health information, exceptions exist, such as when a patient might cause harm to himself or another. The army encourages doctors to report if a "high-risk" solider misses a counseling session, for example, and has begun to require a list of soldiers' medical appointments. It's unclear what other behavior might allow the sharing of private therapy information, said a HIPAA officer at Duquesne University.
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