Notice of Privacy Practices
This notice describes how health information about you may be used and disclosed and how you can get access to this information. It is effective January 1, 2011, and applies to all protected health information contained in your health records maintained by us. We have the following duties regarding the maintenance, use and disclosure of your health records:
- We are required by law to maintain the privacy of the protected health information in your records and to provide you with this Notice of our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to that information.
- We are required to abide by the terms of this Notice currently in effect.
- We reserve the right to change the terms of this Notice at any time, making the new provisions effective for all health information and records that we have and continue to maintain.
There are a number of situations in which we may use or disclose to other persons or entities your confidential health information. Certain uses and disclosures will require you to sign an acknowledgment that you received this Notice of Privacy Practices. These include treatment, payment, and health care operations. Any use or disclosure of your protected health information required for anything other than treatment, payment or health care operations requires you to sign an Authorization. Certain disclosures that are required by law, or under emergency circumstances, may be made without your Acknowledgement or Authorization. Under any circumstance, we will use or disclose only the minimum amount of information necessary from your medical records to accomplish the intended purpose of the disclosure.
We will attempt in good faith to obtain your signed Acknowledgement that you received this Notice to use and disclose your confidential medical information for the following purposes.
Treatment: We will use your health information to make decisions about the provision, coordination, or management of your healthcare, including analyzing or diagnosing your condition and determining the appropriate treatment for that condition. It may also be necessary to share your health information with another health care provider whom we need to consult with respect to your care. These are only examples of uses and disclosures of medical information for treatment purposes that may or may not be necessary in your case.
Payment: We may need to use or disclose information in your health record to obtain reimbursement from you, from your health insurance carrier, or from another insurer for our services rendered to you. This may include determinations of eligibility or coverage under the appropriate health plan, pre-certification and pre-authorization of services or review of services for the purpose of reimbursement. This information may also be used for billing, claims management and collection purposes, and related healthcare data processing through our system.
There are certain circumstances under which we may use or disclose your health information without first obtaining your Acknowledgement or Authorization. Those circumstances generally involve public health and oversight activities, law-enforcement activities, judicial and administrative proceedings, and in the event of death. Specifically, we may be required to report to certain agencies information concerning certain communicable diseases, sexually transmitted diseases, or HIV/AIDS status. We may also be required to report instances of suspected or documented abuse, neglect, or domestic violence. We are required to report to appropriate agencies and law-enforcement officials information that you or another person is in immediate threat of danger to health or safety as a result of violent activity. We must also provide health information when ordered by a court of law to do so. We may contact you from time to time to provide appointment reminders or information about treatment alternatives or other health-related benefits and services that may be of interest to you. There may sometimes be close proximity with other patients. We will try to speak quietly to you in a manner reasonably calculated to avoid disclosing your health information to others; however, complete privacy may not be possible.
Others Involved in Your Healthcare: Unless you object, we may disclose to a member of your family, a relative, a close friend or any other person you identify, your protected health information that directly relates to that person’s involvement in your health care. If you are unable to agree or object to such a disclosure, we may disclose such information as necessary if we determine that it is in your best interest based on our professional judgment. We may use or disclose protected health information to notify or assist in notifying a family member, personal representative, or any other person that is responsible for the care of your location, general condition or death. Finally, we may use or disclose your protected health information to an authorized public or private entity to assist in disaster relief efforts and to coordinate uses and disclosures to family or other individuals involved in your healthcare.
Communication Barriers and Emergencies: We may use and disclose your protected health information if we attempt to obtain consent from you but are unable to do so because of substantial communication barriers and we determine, using professional judgment, that you intend to consent to use or disclosure under the circumstances. We may use or disclose your protected health information in an emergency treatment situation. If this happens, we will try to obtain your consent as soon as reasonably practicable after the delivery of treatment. If we are required by law or as a matter of necessity to treat you, and we have attempted to obtain your consent but have been unable to obtain your consent, we may still use or disclose your protected health information to treat you.
Except as indicated above, your health information will not be used or disclosed to any other person or entity without your specific Authorization, which may be revoked at any time. In particular, except to the extent disclosure has been made to governmental entities required by law to maintain the confidentiality of the information, information will not be further disclosed to any other person or entity with respect to information concerning mental-health treatment, drug and alcohol abuse, HIV/AIDS or sexually transmitted diseases that may be contained in your health records. We likewise will not disclose your health-record information to an employer for purposes of making employment decisions, to a liability insurer or attorney as a result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident, or to educational authorities, without your written authorization.
You may file a written complaint to us or to the Secretary of Health and Human Services if you believe that your privacy rights with respect to confidential information in your health records have been violated. All complaints must be in writing and must be addressed to the Privacy Officer (in the case of complaints to us) or to the person designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services if we cannot resolve your concerns. You will not be retaliated against for filing such a complaint. More information is available about complaints at the government’s web site, http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa.