EAP Participant Rights
UW Oshkosh employees and eligible members are entitled to the following rights as participants in EAP:
- To be treated in an atmosphere which is safe, trusting and confidential;
- To be treated with utmost care, concern and respect;
- To be referred to the most competent, cost-effective resource when an outside referral is necessary;
- To know that their job security or promotional opportunity will not be jeopardized due to involvement in the program;
- To view their confidential case records with the EAP Director or receive a copy at their own expense.
Confidentiality and Patient Rights
Maintenance of confidentiality is one of the most important aspects of EAP. Asserting and maintaining the confidentiality of employees’ participation in the program is the cornerstone of professional ethics as well as federal and state regulations that apply to EAP's.
- Confidentiality in the EAP will be maintained within the rules established by federal and state law and professional ethical standards. Disclosure of information shared by the employee to any source without the prior written consent of that employee is prohibited. This means that the fact that an employee has consulted with EAP, as well the details of the conversation, are usually protected against disclosure.
- Confidentiality must be maintained across several levels on behalf of the employee. This means information about the employee cannot be revealed in conversations with community resource personnel as well as with persons within the University (such as co-workers, managers, supervisors and human resource staff). Confidentiality also extends to information that is recorded (i.e., contact forms) as well as unrecorded (i.e., personal observations or opinions.)
The information given during an EAP contact will remain confidential and will not be discussed with anyone unless:
- the employee gives written permission by signing an "Authorization to Release Information" form, or
- the employee reveals information that falls outside of complete confidentiality (see "Exceptions" below).
Employees participating in the EA Program are informed about the scope and limits of confidentiality at the time of initial contact.
Exceptions to Complete Confidentiality
There are several exceptions to the general principle of confidentiality. The following situations may warrant release of information without consent. The EAP director will be informed of any case that necessitates that these exceptions be made:
- Medical Emergency.
Necessary and relevant information may be released to medical personnel if it is needed in a medical emergency.
- Threat to Self or Others
- Abused or Neglected Child.
If the EAP sees an abused or neglected child in the course of interacting with an employee, the law requires that this be reported to a county social services or law enforcement agency. If EAP has other reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or neglect in the course of interacting with an employee, this may also be reported.
- Court Subpoena.
Information may be released pursuant to a court order in response to a subpoena in a legal proceeding. Certain communications may be revealed in the course of a judicial proceeding.
- Specific serious risk or threat that endangers university operations and well-being may warrant disclosure to appropriate individuals.
Crimes committed in violation of the criminal (felony) laws of the state of Wisconsin may warrant disclosure.
Authorization to Release
When making an appointment with a referral source at the employee’s request, it is permissible, with the employee’s written consent, to give the employee’s name and other identifying information (phone, etc.) if needed. However, personal information or details of the conference with the employee will be withheld unless directly relevant and the consent form specifies what information is to be released.
If a supervisor formally refers an employee to EAP, he/she will be contacted only with the written permission of the employee. The supervisor will be told only whether the employee kept the appointment, whether a recommendation was made and whether the employee took action to implement it. The supervisor will not be told what was discussed unless the employee requests it and signs a release of information specifying the information to be released.
Obviously, at the employee’s request, EAP may share information. Prior written consent which specifies exactly what information is to be disclosed, to whom, for what purpose, and the time period that the release is to be in effect must be obtained. It is good clinical practice to obtain the employee’s written consent whenever the above mentioned exceptions to confidentiality occur as well.
Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Records by Federal Rule
EAP is not a drug or alcohol treatment facility but provides assessment and referral to such facilities. Nevertheless, the confidentiality of alcohol and drug abuse client records maintained by EAP is protected by federal law and regulations. EAP may not disclose that a client was seen at EAP or disclose any information identifying the client as an alcohol or drug abuser, unless:
- The employee consents in writing
- The disclosure is allowed by a court order, or
- The disclosure is made to medical personnel in a medical emergency or to qualified personnel for research, audit, or program evaluation.
Violation of federal law and regulations as stated above, by an EA Program is a crime. If you suspect violations by this EA Program, you may report them to appropriate authorities in accordance with federal regulations.
Note: If you would like a copy of the "Policy on Confidentiality of the UW Oshkosh Employee Assistance Program," or information on the "Federal Rules on Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records" (42 CFR Part 2), contact EAP at (920) 424-2061.
Approved by EAP Advisory Board: Nov. 1989, June 2000
Revised: March 1991, Jan. 1999, June 2000
Office of General Counsel Review: June 6, 2000