HIPAA NOTICE OF PRIVACY PRACTICES Effective Date: April 14, 2003 Version 1
THIS NOTICE DESCRIBES HOW MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED AND HOW YOU CAN GET ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION. PLEASE REVIEW IT CAREFULLY.
If you have any questions about this notice, please contact Elk Regional Health Center (ERHC) Privacy Officer
This notice describes ERHC’s practices and that of:
- Any health care professional authorized to enter information into your Health Center chart.
- All departments and units of the Health Center.
- Any member of a volunteer group we allow to help you while you are in the Health Center.
- All employees, staff and other Health Center personnel.
- All these entities, sites and locations follow the terms of this notice. In addition, these entities, sites and locations may share medical information with each other for treatment, payment or Health Center operation purposes described in this notice.
ERHC, the independent contractors of its Medical Staff (including your physician), and other health care providers affiliated with ERHC have agreed, as permitted by law, to share your health information among themselves for purposes of treatment, payment or health care operations. This enables us to better address your health care needs.
ERHC understands that medical information about you and your health is personal. We are committed to protecting medical information about you. We create and maintain records of all care and services you receive at the Health Center. We need this record to provide you with quality care and to comply with certain legal requirements. This notice applies to all of the records of your care generated by the Health Center, whether made by Health Center personnel or your doctor(s). Your doctor(s) may have different policies or notices regarding their use and disclosure of your medical information created in the their offices or clinics.
This notice will tell you about the ways in which we may use and disclose medical information about you. We also describe your rights and certain obligations we have regarding the use and disclosure of medical information.
We are required by law to:
- make sure that medical information that identifies you is kept private;
- give you this notice of our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to medical information about you; and
- follow the terms of the notice that is currently in effect.
HOW WE MAY USE AND DISCLOSE MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU.
The following categories describe different ways that we use and disclose medical information. For each category of uses or disclosures we will explain what we mean and try to give some examples. Not every use or disclosure in a category will be listed. However, all of the ways we are permitted to use and disclose information will fall within one of the categories.
- For Treatment. We may use medical information about you to provide you with medical treatment or services. We may disclose medical information about you to doctors, nurses, technicians, medical students, or other Health Center personnel who are involved in taking care of you at the Health Center. Different departments of the Health Center also may share medical information about you in order to coordinate the different things you need, such as prescriptions, lab work and x-rays.
- For Payment. We may use and disclose medical information about you so that the treatment and services you receive at the Health Center may be billed to and payment may be collected from an insurance company, third party or you. For example, we may need to give your health plan information about surgery you received at the Health Center so your health plan will pay us or reimburse you appropriately for the surgery. We may also tell your health plan about a treatment you are going to receive to obtain prior approval or to determine whether your plan will cover the treatment.
- For Health Care Operations. We may use and disclose medical information about you for Health Center operations. These uses and disclosures are necessary to run the Health Center and make sure that all of our patients receive quality care. For example, we may use medical information to review our treatment and services and to evaluate the performance of our staff in caring for you. We may also combine medical information about many Health Center patients to decide what additional services the Health Center should offer, what services are not needed, and whether certain new treatments are effective. We may disclose information to doctors, nurses, technicians, medical students, and other Health Center personnel for review and learning purposes. We may also combine the medical information we have with medical information from other Health Centers to compare how we are doing and see where we can make improvements in the care and services we offer. We will remove information that identifies you from this set of medical information so others may use it to study health care and health care delivery without learning who the specific patients are.
- Appointment Reminders. We may use and disclose medical information to contact you as a reminder that you have an appointment for treatment or medical care at the Health Center.
- Treatment Alternatives. We may use and disclose medical information to tell you about or recommend possible treatment options or alternatives that may be of interest to you.
- Health-Related Benefits and Services. We may use and disclose medical information to tell you about health-related benefits or services that may be of interest to you.
- Fundraising Activities. We may use selected information to contact you in an effort to raise money for the Health Center and its operations. We may disclose information to Elk Regional Health System Foundation so that they may contact you to raise money for the Health Center. We will only use information such as your name, address and phone number and the dates you received services at the Health Center. If you do not want the Health Center to contact you for fundraising efforts, you must notify Public Relations in writing.
- Health Center Directory. We may include certain limited information about you in the Health Center directory while you are a patient at the Health Center. This information may include your name, location in the Health Center, your general condition (e.g., fair, stable, etc.) and your religious affiliation. The directory information, except for your religious affiliation, may also be released to people who ask for you by name. Your religious affiliation may be given to your clergy even if they don’t ask for you by name. This is so your family, friends and clergy can visit you in the Health Center and generally know how you are doing. You will be asked by registration personnel if you wish to be included in the directory. If you refuse, none of the above mentioned information will be given to any requestor, nor will any telephone calls be connected to your room.
- Individuals Involved in Your Care or Payment for Your Care. With your authorization, we may release medical information about you to a friend or family member who is involved in your medical care. We may also give information to someone who helps pay for your care. In addition, we may disclose medical information about you to an entity assisting in a disaster relief effort so that your family can be notified about your condition, status and location.
- Research. Under certain circumstances, we may use and disclose medical information about you for research purposes. For example, a research project may involve comparing the health and recovery of all patients who received one medication to those who received another, for the same condition. All research projects, however, are subject to a special approval process. This process evaluates a proposed research project and its use of medical information, trying to balance the research needs with patients' need for privacy of their medical information. Before we use or disclose medical information for research, the project will have been approved through this research approval process, but we may, however, disclose medical information about you to people preparing to conduct a research project, for example, to help them look for patients with specific medical needs, so long as the medical information they review does not leave the Health Center. We will attempt to ask for your specific permission if the researcher will have access to your name, address or other information that reveals who you are, or will be involved in your care at the Health Center.
- As Required By Law. We will disclose medical information about you when required to do so by federal, state or local law.
- To Avert a Serious Threat to Health or Safety. We may use and disclose medical information about you when necessary to prevent a serious threat to your health and safety or the health and safety of the public or another person. Any disclosure, however, would only be to someone able to help prevent the threat.
- Organ and Tissue Donation. If you are an organ donor, we may release medical information to organizations that handle organ procurement or organ, eye or tissue transplantation or to an organ donation bank, as necessary to facilitate organ or tissue donation and transplantation.
- Military and Veterans. If you are a member of the armed forces, we may release medical information about you as required by military command authorities. We may also release medical information about foreign military personnel to the appropriate foreign military authority.
- Public Health Risks. We may disclose medical information about you for public health activities. These activities generally include the following:
- to prevent or control disease, injury or disability;
- to report births and deaths;
- to report child abuse or neglect;
- to report reactions to medications or problems with products;
- to notify people of recalls of products they may be using;
- to notify a third party at risk of communicable disease;
- to notify the appropriate government authority if we believe a patient has been the victim of abuse, neglect or domestic violence. We will only make this disclosure if you agree or when required or authorized by law.
- to notify ERHC Family Unit, if you are pregnant, of any PHI generated within the facility in an effort to screen for public health risks or potential risks to you or your baby.
- Health Oversight Activities. We may disclose medical information to a health oversight agency for activities authorized by law. These oversight activities include, for example, audits, investigations, inspections, and licensure. These activities are necessary for the government to monitor the health care system, government programs, and compliance with civil rights laws.
- Lawsuits and Disputes. If you are involved in a lawsuit or a dispute, we may disclose medical information about you in response to a court or administrative order. We may also disclose medical information about you in response to a subpoena, search warrant, or other lawful process by someone else involved in the dispute, but only if efforts have been made to tell you about the request or to obtain an order protecting the information requested.
- Law Enforcement. We may release medical information if asked to do so by a law enforcement official:
- In response to a court order, subpoena, warrant, summons or similar process;
- To identify or locate a suspect, fugitive, material witness, or missing person;
- About the victim of a crime if, under certain limited circumstances, we are unable to obtain the person's agreement;
- About a death we believe may be the result of criminal conduct;
- About criminal conduct at the Health Center; and
- In emergency circumstances to report a crime; the location of the crime or victims; or the identity, description or location of the person who committed the crime.
- Coroners, Medical Examiners and Funeral Directors. We may release medical information to a coroner or medical examiner. This may be necessary, for example, to identify a deceased person or determine the cause of death. We may also release medical information about patients of the Health Center to funeral directors as necessary to carry out their duties.
- National Security and Intelligence Activities. We may release medical information about you to authorized federal officials for intelligence, counterintelligence, and other national security activities authorized by law.
- Protective Services for the President and Others. We may disclose medical information about you to authorized federal officials so they may provide protection to the President, other authorized persons or foreign heads of state or conduct special investigations.
- Inmates. If you are an inmate of a correctional institution or under the custody of a law enforcement official, we may release medical information about you to the correctional institution or law enforcement official. This release would be necessary (1) for the institution to provide you with health care; (2) to protect your health and safety or the health and safety of others; or (3) for the safety and security of the correctional institution.
YOUR RIGHTS REGARDING MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU.
You have the following rights regarding medical information we maintain about you:
- Right to Inspect and Copy. You have the right to inspect and/or request a copy of medical information that may be used to make decisions about your care. Usually, this includes medical and billing records, but does not include psychotherapy notes.
To inspect and/or copy your medical information you must submit your request in writing to the Health Information Management Department. If you request a copy of the information, we may charge a fee for the costs of copying, mailing or other supplies associated with your request.
We may deny your request to inspect health information under certain very limited circumstances. If you are denied access to medical information, you may request that the denial be reviewed. A licensed health care professional chosen by the Health Center will review your request and the denial. The person conducting the review will not be the person who denied your request. We will comply with the outcome of the review.
- Right to Amend. If you feel that medical information we have about you is incorrect or incomplete, you may ask us to amend the information. You have the right to request an amendment for as long as the information is kept by or for the Health Center.
To request an amendment, your request must be made in writing using the approved amendment request form and submitted to the Health Information Management Department. In addition, you must provide a reason that supports your request.
We may deny your request for an amendment if it is not in writing or does not include a reason to support the request. In addition, we may deny your request if you ask us to amend information that:
- Was not created by us,
- Is not part of the medical information kept by or for the Health Center;
- Is not part of the information which you would be permitted to inspect and copy; or
- Is accurate and complete.
- Right to an Accounting of Disclosures. You have the right to request an "accounting of disclosures." This is a list of the disclosures of your medical information made by the Health Center and/or a business associate for us, for purposes other than payment, treatment or operations.
To request this list or accounting of disclosures, you must submit your request in writing to our Privacy Officer. Your request must state a time period which may not be longer than six years and may not include dates before April 14, 2003. Your request should indicate in what form you want the list (for example, on paper, electronically). The first list you request within a 12 month period will be free. For additional lists, we may charge you for the costs of providing the list. We will notify you of the cost involved and you may choose to withdraw or modify your request at that time before any costs are incurred.
- Right to Request Restrictions. You have the right to request a restriction or limitation on the medical information we use or disclose unless the disclosure is required by law.
We are not required to agree to your request. If we do agree, we will comply with your request unless the information is needed to provide you emergency treatment.
To request restrictions, you must make your request in writing to the Health Information Management Department. In your request, you must tell us (1) what information you want to limit; (2) whether you want to limit our use, disclosure or both; and (3) to whom you want the limits to apply, for example, disclosures to your spouse/parents of non-minors.
- Right to Request Confidential Communications. You have the right to request that we communicate with you about medical matters in a certain way or at a certain location. For example, you can ask that we only contact you at work, by mail or to an address that differs from that on file.
To request confidential communications, you must make your request in writing to our Privacy Officer. We will not ask you the reason for your request. We will accommodate all reasonable requests. Your request must specify how or where you wish to be contacted.
Right to a Paper Copy of This Notice. You have the right to a paper copy of this notice. You may ask us to give you a copy of this notice at any time. Even if you have agreed to receive this notice electronically, you are still entitled to a paper copy of this notice.
You may obtain a copy of this notice at our website, www.elkregional.org
To obtain a paper copy of this notice, please call the Privacy Officer at 814-788-8547.
CHANGES TO THIS NOTICE
We reserve the right to change this notice. We reserve the right to make the revised or changed notice effective for medical information we already have about you as well as any information we receive in the future. We will post the most current version of this notice in the Health Center. The hard copy of this notice will contain on the first page, in the top right-hand corner, the effective date. In addition, each time you register at or are admitted to the Health Center for treatment or health care services as an inpatient or outpatient, we will offer you a copy of the current notice in effect. If any changes are made to this notice, a revision will be available on our website and will be posted within our facilities.
If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you may file a complaint with the Health Center or with the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. To file a complaint with the Health Center, contact the person listed below. All complaints must be submitted in writing.
ERHC Privacy Officer
763 Johnsonburg Road
St. Marys, PA 15857
You will not be penalized for filing a complaint.
OTHER USES OF MEDICAL INFORMATION
Other uses and disclosures of medical information not covered by this notice or the laws that apply to us will be made only with your written permission. If you provide us permission to use or disclose medical information about you, you may revoke that permission, in writing, at any time. If you revoke your permission, we will no longer use or disclose medical information about you for the reasons covered by your written authorization. Please understand that we are unable to retract any disclosures we have already made with your permission, and that we are required to retain our records of the care that we provided to you.