In using and disclosing this protected health information (PHI), it is our objective to follow the Privacy Standards of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”), 45 CFR Part 464, and its related Rules and Regulations and other State laws. HIPAA allows us to use and disclose PHI without your specific authorization for treatment, payment, and health care operations and as required by law. This includes the sharing of information with certain State agencies when mandated by certain States to report names of patients testing positive for certain sexually transmitted diseases (all infections we test for except Herpes). All other uses and disclosures require your specific authorization.
YOUR HEALTH INFORMATION RIGHTS ALLOW YOU TO
- Request a restriction on the uses and disclosures of PHI as described in this notice, although we are not required to agree to the restriction you request. You should address your request in writing to the Privacy Officer. We will notify you within 30 days if we cannot agree to the restriction.
- Obtain an accounting of disclosures of your health information, except that we are not required to account for disclosures for treatment, payment, or health care operations, or pursuant to authorization.
- Request in writing to the Privacy Officer that we communicate with you by a specific method and at a specific location. We will typically communicate with you via e-mail, fax, and/or telephone.
- Revoke an authorization to use or disclose PHI at any time except where action has already been taken.
OUR RESPONSIBILITIES AS REQUIRED BY LAW
- Maintain the privacy of PHI and provide you with notice of our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to PHI.
- Abide by the terms of the notice currently in effect. We have the right to change our notice of privacy practices and we will apply the change to your entire PHI, including information obtained prior to the change.
- Use or disclose your PHI only with your authorization except as described in this notice.
- Follow the more stringent law in any circumstance where other State or Federal law may further restrict the disclosure of your PHI.
If you feel your rights have been violated, you may file a complaint in writing with the Privacy Officer. If you are not satisfied with the resolution of the complaint, you may also file a complaint with the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Filing a complaint will not result in retaliation.
We may use or disclose your PHI for the following additional uses:
We will use and exchange information obtained by a physician, nurse practitioner, nurse or other medical professionals, staff, trainees and volunteers in our office to determine your best course of treatment. The information obtained from you or from other providers will become part of your medical records. We may also disclose your PHI to other outside treating medical professionals and staff as deemed necessary for your care. For example, we may disclose your PHI to an outside doctor for referral. We will also provide your health care providers with copies of various reports to assist them in your treatment.
We may send a bill to you or to your insurance carrier. Also, the disbursement office may receive PHI as necessary to pay a claim. The information on or accompanying the bill may include information that identifies you, as well as that portion of your PHI necessary to obtain payment.
HEALTH CARE OPERATIONS
Members of the medical staff, trainees, medical students, a Risk or Quality Improvement team, or similar internal personnel may use your information to assess the care and outcomes of your care in an effort to improve the quality of the healthcare and service we provide or for educational purposes. For example, an internal review team may review your medical records to determine the appropriateness of care. There may also be times in which our accountants, auditors, health information specialists or attorneys may review your PHI to meet their responsibilities.
OTHER USES AND DISCLOSURES NOT REQUIRING AUTHORIZATION
- Business Associates: There are some services provided to our organization through contracts with business associates that provide technical support. We may disclose your health information to our business associates so that they can perform these services. We require the business associates to safeguard your information to our standards.
- Legally Required Disclosures & Public Health: We may disclose PHI as required by law. Certain States require that we submit the names of persons who test positive for sexually transmitted diseases. Other States do not require named reporting.
- We may also disclose PHI to others as required by court or administrative order, or in response to a valid summons or subpoena.