Confidentiality is the bedrock upon which effective services are rendered, and is baked into the fabric of both Florida law, national legislation, and professional ethical standards. During an average therapy session, fire service personnel reveal more to the behavioral health professional about their experiences than they might tell their closest family member.
Breaking confidentiality could be damaging to the psychological health and wellbeing of the fire service personnel seeking services. This, in turn, could be detrimental to the safety of the fire service personnel and those he/she serves. Therefore, maintaining confidentiality is of the utmost importance to the behavioral health professional, the individual firefighter, the department for whom the firefighter works, and for the community.
Fire service personnel worry “what will get back to my department” when using insurance benefits or Employee Assistance Program (EAP). There are very few times a healthcare professional is able to release your information. Although we can never completely put your mind at ease, we believe it is extremely important to be as transparent as possible. Below are some exceptions to the confidentiality policy:
- Your insurance company and/or EAP requests basic information about your care to ensure treatment is “medically necessary.” Consequently, insurance claims must include basic demographic information (name, date of birth, age, address), the reason for your appointments, and (in rare cases) the course of treatment. None of this information is shared with the department without your written consent. A sample of the EAP and insurance confidentiality policy is here.
- A release of information (ROI) is your written consent giving the doctor’s office permission to share you protected health information with another entity, whether it’s a relative, another health facility, or the department. An ROI is voluntary and not required as part of your appointments.
- Verbalizing plans to complete suicide or homicide is another time a healthcare provider will release your information to ensure your safety and the safety of others. We will not release information if you verbalize suicidal thoughts. The only time we will get another person involved is if you insist on following through on plans to complete suicide or homicide. In these cases, we take all necessary precautions to maximize confidentiality, including contacting a person of your choice, the emergency contact on file, or a peer support team member.
- Suspected abuse of a minor (< 18 years) or elder (> 64 years).
- Court-ordered subpoena.
If you ever have any questions or doubts about the security, privacy, or confidentiality of your records, please do not hesitate to speak with us.