70.02.250  <<  70.02.260 >>   70.02.270

RCW 70.02.260

Mental health services—Requests for information and records.

*** CHANGE IN 2018 *** (SEE 1388-S.SL) ***

(1)(a) A mental health service agency shall release to the persons authorized under subsection (2) of this section, upon request:
(i) The fact, place, and date of an involuntary commitment, the fact and date of discharge or release, and the last known address of a person who has been committed under chapter 71.05 RCW.
(ii) Information and records related to mental health services, in the format determined under subsection (9) of this section, concerning a person who:
(A) Is currently committed to the custody or supervision of the department of corrections or the indeterminate sentence review board under chapter 9.94A or 9.95 RCW;
(B) Has been convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity of a serious violent offense; or
(C) Was charged with a serious violent offense and the charges were dismissed under RCW 10.77.086.
(b) Legal counsel may release such information to the persons authorized under subsection (2) of this section on behalf of the mental health service agency, so long as nothing in this subsection requires the disclosure of attorney work product or attorney-client privileged information.
(2) The information subject to release under subsection (1) of this section must be released to law enforcement officers, personnel of a county or city jail, *designated mental health professionals, public health officers, therapeutic court personnel as defined in RCW 71.05.020, or personnel of the department of corrections, including the indeterminate sentence review board and personnel assigned to perform board-related duties, when such information is requested during the course of business and for the purpose of carrying out the responsibilities of the requesting person's office. No mental health service agency or person employed by a mental health service agency, or its legal counsel, may be liable for information released to or used under the provisions of this section or rules adopted under this section except under RCW 71.05.680.
(3) A person who requests information under subsection (1)(a)(ii) of this section must comply with the following restrictions:
(a) Information must be requested only for the purposes permitted by this subsection and for the purpose of carrying out the responsibilities of the requesting person's office. Appropriate purposes for requesting information under this section include:
(i) Completing presentence investigations or risk assessment reports;
(ii) Assessing a person's risk to the community;
(iii) Assessing a person's risk of harm to self or others when confined in a city or county jail;
(iv) Planning for and provision of supervision of an offender, including decisions related to sanctions for violations of conditions of community supervision; and
(v) Responding to an offender's failure to report for department of corrections supervision;
(b) Information may not be requested under this section unless the requesting person has reasonable suspicion that the individual who is the subject of the information:
(i) Has engaged in activity indicating that a crime or a violation of community custody or parole has been committed or, based upon his or her current or recent past behavior, is likely to be committed in the near future; or
(ii) Is exhibiting signs of a deterioration in mental functioning which may make the individual appropriate for civil commitment under chapter 71.05 RCW; and
(c) Any information received under this section must be held confidential and subject to the limitations on disclosure outlined in this chapter, except:
(i) The information may be shared with other persons who have the right to request similar information under subsection (2) of this section, solely for the purpose of coordinating activities related to the individual who is the subject of the information in a manner consistent with the official responsibilities of the persons involved;
(ii) The information may be shared with a prosecuting attorney acting in an advisory capacity for a person who receives information under this section. A prosecuting attorney under this subsection is subject to the same restrictions and confidentiality limitations as the person who requested the information; and
(iii) As provided in RCW 72.09.585.
(4) A request for information and records related to mental health services under this section does not require the consent of the subject of the records. The request must be provided in writing, except to the extent authorized in subsection (5) of this section. A written request may include requests made by email or facsimile so long as the requesting person is clearly identified. The request must specify the information being requested.
(5) In the event of an emergency situation that poses a significant risk to the public or the offender, a mental health service agency, or its legal counsel, shall release information related to mental health services delivered to the offender and, if known, information regarding where the offender is likely to be found to the department of corrections or law enforcement upon request. The initial request may be written or oral. All oral requests must be subsequently confirmed in writing. Information released in response to an oral request is limited to a statement as to whether the offender is or is not being treated by the mental health service agency and the address or information about the location or whereabouts of the offender.
(6) Disclosure under this section to state or local law enforcement authorities is mandatory for the purposes of the federal health insurance portability and accountability act.
(7) Whenever federal law or federal regulations restrict the release of information contained in the treatment records of any patient who receives treatment for alcoholism or drug dependency, the release of the information may be restricted as necessary to comply with federal law and regulations.
(8) This section does not modify the terms and conditions of disclosure of information related to sexually transmitted diseases under this chapter.
(9) In collaboration with interested organizations, the department shall develop a standard form for requests for information related to mental health services made under this section and a standard format for information provided in response to the requests. Consistent with the goals of the health information privacy provisions of the federal health insurance portability and accountability act, in developing the standard form for responsive information, the department shall design the form in such a way that the information disclosed is limited to the minimum necessary to serve the purpose for which the information is requested.
NOTES:
*Reviser's note: The term "designated mental health professional" was changed to "designated crisis responder" by 2016 sp.s. c 29 § 416, effective April 1, 2018.
Effective date2013 c 200: See note following RCW 70.02.010.
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