NOTICE OF PRIVACY PRACTICES
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.
Our Promise. The privacy of your health information is important to us. We understand that your health information is personal, and we are committed to protecting it. This Notice describes how we may use and disclose your protected health information. It also describes your rights regarding your protected health information. “Protected health information” or “PHI” is information about you, including demographic information, that may identify you and that relates to your past, present, or future physical or mental health or condition, the provision of health care products and services to you, or the payment for such services.
Our Legal Duty. We are required by law to maintain the privacy of your PHI, to give you this notice of our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to your PHI, and to follow the terms of our notice that are currently in effect.
Revisions to this Notice. We may change the terms of our notice at any time, and we will promptly distribute any updates whenever there is a material change to the uses or disclosures of PHI, your rights, our legal duties, or other privacy practices stated in the Notice. The new notice will be effective for all PHI that we maintain at the time as well as any information we receive in the future. You can obtain any revised HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices by contacting our Privacy Officer. The Notice is also available on our website and in our facilities.
Contact Information. You may contact our Privacy Officer by telephone at 423-775-8581 or by mail at Rhea Medical Center, Attn: Privacy Officer, 9400 Rhea County Hwy, Dayton, TN 37321.
How We May Use and Disclose Your PHI
The following examples describe different ways that we may use and disclose your PHI. These examples are not meant to be exhaustive, but to describe the types of uses and disclosures that may be made by us. We are permitted to use and disclose your PHI for the following purposes. However, we may never have reason to make some of these disclosures.
For Treatment. We will use and disclose your PHI to provide, coordinate, or manage your health care treatment and any related services and to tell you about or recommend different treatment options. PHI may be disclosed to doctors, interns, nurses, technicians, volunteers, students, and others involved in your care. We may also disclose PHI to unaffiliated physicians who may be treating you. For example, your PHI may be provided to a physician to whom you have been referred to ensure that the physician has the necessary information to diagnose or treat you. In addition, we may disclose your PHI from time-to-time to another physician or health care provider (e.g., a specialist or laboratory) who, at the request of your physician, becomes involved in your care by providing assistance with your health care diagnosis or treatment.
For Payment. Your PHI will be used, as needed, to bill and obtain payment for your health care services. For example, a bill may be sent to you or to your insurance company. This may also include certain activities that your health insurance plan may undertake before it approves or pays for the health care services we recommend for you, such as making a determination of eligibility or coverage for insurance benefits, reviewing services provided to you for medical necessity, and undertaking utilization review activities. For example, obtaining approval for a hospital stay may require that your relevant PHI be disclosed to your health plan to obtain approval for hospital admission. In certain situations, you may request that we not send information about your treatment to your health plan or insurance company. Please see the “Your Rights Regarding PHI” section of this Notice.
For Health Care Operations. We may use and disclose your PHI for health care operation purposes. These uses and disclosures help us make sure that all of our patients receive quality care and for our operation and management purposes. This includes using and disclosing PHI to conduct quality assessments; for credentialing, licensure, certification, and accreditation; to improve our care and services; to train and evaluate our staff; to do an audit; to budget and plan; to learn how to improve our facilities and services; and for general administrative activities. For example, we may use your PHI to review the treatment and services you receive to check on the performance of our staff in caring for you. We may also disclose information to doctors, nurses, technicians, medical students, and other personnel for educational and learning purposes.
For Health Information Exchanges (HIEs). We will send your PHI to any of the HIEs in which we participate. An HIE is an electronic system that helps health care providers and other entities, such as health plans and insurers, manage care and treat patients. Your PHI, including information about your medical care, medical conditions, and medications, is available to us and other unaffiliated health care providers who participate in the HIE. You have the right to opt out of the HIE. However, even if you do, some of your health information will remain available to certain health care entities as permitted by law. If you have questions or would like to opt out of any of the HIEs, contact our Privacy Officer.
Appointment Reminders/Treatment Alternatives/Health-Related Benefits and Services. We may use and disclose your PHI to contact you to remind you that you have an appointment for treatment or medical care, or to contact you to tell you about possible treatment options or alternatives or health related benefits and services that may be of interest to you.
Fundraising Activities. We may use or disclose to the Rhea Medical Healthcare Foundation your information and the dates that you received treatment in order to contact you for fundraising activities. If you do not want to receive these materials, please contact our Privacy Officer and request that these fundraising materials not be sent to you.
Facility Directories. Unless you object, we may use and disclose in our facility directory your name, the location at which you are receiving care, your condition in general terms (such as “fair” or “stable”), and your religious affiliation. All of this information, except religious affiliation, will be disclosed to people that ask for you by name. Members of the clergy will be told your religious affiliation. You have the opportunity to agree or object to the use or disclosure of all or part of your PHI for these purposes. If you are not present or able to agree or object to the use or disclosure of the PHI, then your physician may, using professional judgement, determine whether the disclosure is in your best interest. In this case, only the PHI that is relevant to your health care will be disclosed.
People Involved in Your Healthcare. Unless you object, we may disclose to a member of your family, a relative, a close friend, a person involved in your care or payment for your care, or any other person you identify, PHI 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 judgement. We may use or disclose PHI to notify or assist in notifying (including identifying and locating) a family member, personal representative, or any other person that is responsible for your care about your location, general condition, or death.
To You or Your Personal Representative. We may disclose your PHI to you, or a representative appointed by you or designated by applicable law.
Disaster Relief Organizations. We may use or disclose your PHI to an authorized public or private entity to assist in disaster relief efforts for the purpose of coordinating uses and disclosures to family or other individuals involved in your health care.
Required by Law. We may use or disclose your PHI to the extent that the use or disclosure is required by law. The use or disclosure will be made in compliance with the law and will be limited to the relevant requirements of the law. You will be notified, to the extent required by law, of any such uses or disclosures.
Judicial and Administrative Proceedings. We may disclose your PHI to respond to a court or administrative order, a subpoena, discovery requests, or other lawful process in accordance with applicable law.
Public Health. We may use or disclose your PHI for public health activities and purposes. This includes disclosures to a public health authority that is permitted by law to collect or receive the information for the purposes of preventing or controlling disease, injury or disability (including reporting births, deaths, and certain injuries or illnesses) or conducting public health surveillance, public health investigations, and public health interventions. In addition, if directed by the public health authority, we may disclose PHI to a foreign government agency that is collaborating with the public health authority. We may also report reactions to medications or problems with products.
Abuse and Neglect. We may use or disclose your PHI to a public health authority or other appropriate government authority authorized by law to receive reports of child abuse or neglect. We may also disclose PHI about an individual whom we reasonably believe to be a victim of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence to a government authority (including a social service or protective services agency) authorized by law to receive reports of such abuse, neglect, or domestic violence. We may do this when required by law, if you agree to the disclosure, or when authorized by law and we believe the disclosure is necessary to prevent serious harm to the individual or other potential victims.
Communicable Diseases. We may disclose your PHI, if authorized by law, to a person who may have been exposed to a communicable disease or may otherwise be at risk of contracting or spreading the disease or condition.
Health Oversight. We may disclose your PHI to a health oversight agency for activities authorized by law, such as audits; investigations; inspections; licensure or disciplinary actions; civil, administrative, or criminal proceedings or actions; or other similar activities involving the oversight of the health care system or government programs. Oversight agencies seeking this information include government agencies that oversee health care system, government benefit programs, other government regulatory programs and civil rights laws.
Food and Drug Administration. We may disclose your PHI to a person or company required by the Food and Drug Administration to report adverse events, product defects or problems, biologic product deviations, track products to enable product recalls, to make repairs or replacements, or to conduct post marketing surveillance, as required by law.
Business Associates. We may disclose your PHI to our business associates that perform functions on our behalf or provide us with services if the information is necessary for such functions or services. For example, we may use another company to perform billing services on our behalf. All of our business associates are obligated, under contract with us, to protect the privacy of your information and are not allowed to use or disclose any information other than as specified in our contract.
Coroners, Funeral Directors, and Medical Examiners. We may disclose certain PHI to a coroner, medical examiner, or funeral director, as authorized by law, in order to permit them to carry out their duties.
Organ Donation. If you are an organ or tissue donor, PHI may be used and disclosed to organ procurement organizations, tissue banks and eye banks and upon request to the person or entity that you designated to be the recipient, as necessary to facilitate organ or tissue donation and transplantation, including cadaveric organ, eye or tissue donation purposes.
Research. We may use and disclose your PHI for research purposes when the research has been approved by an institutional review board that has reviewed the research proposal and established protocols to ensure the privacy of your PHI. We also may disclose health 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 health information they review does not leave our organization.
To Avert a Serious Threat to Health and Safety. Consistent with applicable federal and state laws, we may disclose your PHI, if we believe that the use or disclosure is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the health or safety of a person or the public.
Law Enforcement. We may also disclose your PHI if it is necessary for law enforcement authorities when required by law, including to report certain types of injuries, or in response to subpoenas, warrants, or summons; to identify or locate a suspect, fugitive, material witness, or missing person; to respond to requests about individuals who is or is suspected to be a victim of a crime; to alert law enforcement about a death; to report suspected criminal conduct committed at our facilities; or to alert law enforcement about a crime in certain emergency circumstances.
Military Activity. If you are a member of the armed forces, we may use or disclose PHI to your commanding officer or other command authority so that your fitness for duty or for a particular mission may be determined, to comply with military health surveillance requirements, for activities deemed necessary by appropriate military command authorities, or for the purpose of a determination by the Department of Veterans Affairs of your eligibility for benefits. If you are a member of a foreign military service, we may release PHI about you to the appropriate foreign military authority.
For National Security and Intelligence Activities. We may disclose PHI to authorized federal officials for conducting national security, intelligence, and counterintelligence activities. PHI may also be disclosed to authorized federal officials so they may provide protection to the President, other authorized persons or foreign heads of state, or conduct special investigations.
Workers’ Compensation. If you seek treatment for a work-related illness or injury, your PHI related to that injury or illness may be disclosed by us as authorized to comply with workers’ compensation laws and other similar legally established programs.
Inmates. If you are an inmate or under the custody of a law enforcement official, we may disclose PHI to the correctional institutions or law enforcement officials.
Required Uses and Disclosures. Under the law, we must make disclosures to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to investigate or determine our compliance with the requirements of HIPAA.
Special Protections for HIV, Alcohol and Substance Abuse, Mental Health and Genetic Information
Certain federal and state laws may require special privacy protections that restrict the use and disclosure of certain health information, including HIV-related information, alcohol and substance abuse information, mental health information, and genetic information. For this type of information, we may be required to get your written permission before disclosing it to others, and we may seek that permission if permitted by law. If you have any questions about this, you may contact our Privacy Officer for more information.
Uses and Disclosures of PHI that Require Your Written Authorization
Uses and disclosures of your PHI that involve the release of psychotherapy notes (if any), marketing, sale of your PHI, or other uses or disclosures not described in this Notice will be made only with your written authorization. You may revoke an authorization at any time, in writing, except to the extent we have taken an action in reliance on the use or disclosure indicated in the authorization. We are unable to take back any disclosures we have already made with your permission.
Your Rights Regarding PHI
The following describes your rights with respect to your PHI and how you may exercise these rights. All requests must be submitted in writing to the Privacy Officer. Please contact the Privacy Officer if you need additional information regarding any of these rights.
You have the right to inspect and copy your PHI. With certain exceptions, you may inspect and obtain a copy of your PHI that is contained in your designated record set for as long as we maintain the PHI. If we maintain the requested information in an electronic health record, you have the right to request that we send a copy in an electronic format. A “designated record set” contains medical and billing records and any other records that we use for making decisions about you. Under federal law, however, you may not inspect or copy psychotherapy notes or information compiled in reasonable anticipation of, or use in, a civil, criminal, or administrative action or proceeding. You must make a written request to inspect and copy your designated record set. We may charge a reasonable fee for any copies. Depending on the circumstances, we may deny your request to inspect and/or copy your PHI. A decision to deny access may be reviewable, and we will inform you of your rights. Please contact the Privacy Officer if you have any questions about access to your medical record.
You have the right to request a restriction of how your PHI is used and disclosed. This means you may ask us not to use or disclose your PHI for treatment, payment or healthcare operations purposes or to family members or friends who may be involved in your care or for notification purposes. However, we are only required to agree to your request as described below. If we agree to the requested restriction, we will not use or disclose your PHI in violation of that restriction unless it is needed to provide emergency treatment or otherwise required by law. With this in mind, please discuss any restriction you wish to request with your physician. You may request a restriction by contacting our Privacy Officer. Your request must state the specific restriction requested and to whom you want the restriction to apply.
We will honor requests to restrict the disclosure of PHI by us to a health plan for payment or health care operations when the information you wish to restrict pertains solely to a health care item or service for which you paid us out-of-pocket in full. “In full” means the amount we charge for the service, not your copay, coinsurance, or deductible responsibility when your health plan or insurer pays for your care. If you think you may wish to restrict the disclosure of your health information for a certain service, please let us know as early in your visit as possible by asking to speak with the Privacy Officer.
You have the right to request to receive confidential communication from us by alternative means or at an alternative location. For example, you may ask that we contact you by mail rather than by telephone, or at work rather than at home. We will accommodate reasonable requests. We may also condition this accommodation by asking you for information as to how payment will be handled or specification of an alternative address or other method of contact. We will not request an explanation from you as to the basis for the request. Please make this request in writing to our Privacy Officer. Your request must specify how or where you wish to be contacted.
You have the right to request amendments to your PHI. If you feel that PHI is incorrect or incomplete, you may request an amendment of PHI about you in your designated record set for as long as we maintain this information. In certain cases, we may deny your request for an amendment. If we deny your request for amendment, you have the right to file a statement of disagreement with us and we may prepare a rebuttal to your statement and will provide you with a copy of the rebuttal. Please contact our Privacy Officer if you have questions about amending your medical record. Your request must be in writing and provide the reasons for the requested amendment. Please be specific about the information that you believe is incorrect or incomplete.
You have the right to receive an accounting of certain disclosures of your PHI. This right only applies to disclosures made by us during the last six years, and it does not include all types of disclosures. For example, the accounting will not include disclosures we may have made for treatment, payment, or healthcare operations; to you; pursuant to an authorization; for a facility directory; to family members or friends involved in your care, or for notification purposes. The right to receive this information is also subject to certain exceptions, restrictions and limitations. If you submit a request, you must state the time period for which you want this listing (for example, six months).
You have the right to receive notice of a data breach. We are required to notify affected individuals following a breach of unsecured PHI. If your PHI is affected by a breach, we will notify you in accordance with applicable law.
You have the right to obtain a paper copy of this notice from us. Upon request, we will provide you with a paper copy of this Notice even if you have agreed to accept this Notice electronically. Please make this request in writing to our Privacy Officer.
Questions or Concerns
Questions or Complaints. If you have any questions or complaints, please contact our Privacy Officer. If you think we may have violated your privacy rights, you may file a complaint with us or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. To submit a complaint to the Department of Health and Human Services, you may contact the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue, SW, Room 509F, Washington, D.C. 20201. Some states may allow you to file a complaint with Attorney General, Office of Consumer Affairs, or other agency as specified by applicable law. To file a complaint with us, submit your complaint to our Privacy Officer in writing. You will not be penalized or retaliated against for filing a complaint.
Contact Information. You may contact our Privacy Officer by telephone at 423-775-8581 or by mail at Rhea Medical Center, Attn: Privacy Officer, 9400 Rhea County Hwy, Dayton, TN 37321.