NOTICE OF PRIVACY PRACTICES
THIS NOTICE DESCRIBES HOW MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED AND HOW YOU MAY OBTAIN ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION. PLEASE REVIEW THIS CAREFULLY.
HEALTHCARE NETWORK’S DUTIES
Healthcare Network is required by law to keep protected health information private. The federal government defines protected health information as any information, whether oral, electronic or paper, which is created or received by Healthcare Network and relates to a patient’s health care or payment for the provision of medical services. This includes not only the results of tests and notes written by doctors, nurses and other clinical personnel, but also certain demographic information (such as name, address and telephone number) that is related to your health records.
HOW HEALTHCARE NETWORK FULFILLS THESE DUTIES
- Healthcare Network considers patient privacy as part of its mission to serve the needs of the patient first.
- Healthcare Network takes necessary precautions against inappropriate use or disclosure of medical information.
- Healthcare network employees are expected to access medical information only as necessary to perform their jobs.
- Healthcare Network employees who violate these rules and policies are subject to sanctions, including discipline and termination.
HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS COVERED BY THIS NOTICE
This notice covers Healthcare Network’s personnel, volunteers, students, and trainees. This notice also covers other health care providers that come to Healthcare Network to care for patients (such as physicians, therapists and other health care providers not employed by Healthcare Network). Healthcare Network may share your medical information with these other health care providers for their treatment, payment and health care operations. This arrangement is necessary for continuation of care.
FEDERAL AND STATE LAW
Federal and state laws require Healthcare Network to protect your medical information and to describe to you how we handle that information. When federal and state privacy laws differ, and the state law is more protective of your information or provides you with greater access to your information, then the state law will override federal law. Healthcare Network will follow the more stringent legal requirements whether it be federal or state regulations.
MOST COMMON USES AND DISCLOSURES
The following describes how Healthcare Network may use your protected health information for treatment, payment or health care operations:
Healthcare Network will use and disclose protected health information to provide, coordinate or manage your care. This includes communication and consultation between health care providers – doctors, nurses, technicians and other members of your health care team. This applies to disclosures for treatment purposes to health care providers both within and outside Healthcare Network. For example, information may be shared with caregivers to ensure continuity of care.
Healthcare Network will use and disclose protected health information to create bill and collect payment from insurance companies, Medicare and other payers. This may include providing information such as dates of service, symptoms and diagnosis to your insurance company to show the organization provided medical services to you. Healthcare Network may also disclose protected health information to another health care provider if such information is needed by the health care provider to obtain payment for medical services provided to you.
HEALTH CARE OPERATIONS
Healthcare Network will use and disclose protected health information if it is necessary to improve the quality of care we provide to patients or to run our health care facilities. These include activities to monitor and improve patient care, license staff to care for patients, prepare for state and federal regulatory reviews, train health care and non-health care professionals, manage health care operations and improve health care services.
Healthcare Network has multiple sites that work closely together to improve health care operations across the system and may use protected health information for these activities.
Healthcare Network may disclose protected health information to another health care provider who has treated you, or to your insurance company, if such information is needed for certain health care operations of the health care provider or insurance company, such as quality improvement activities, evaluations of health care professionals, and state and federal regulatory reviews.
At times Healthcare Network may access information such as your name, address and general medical condition to contact you to:
- Set up or remind you of future appointments
- Provide information about treatment alternatives or other information that may be of interest to you
- Disclose health-related benefits or services that may be of interest to you.
FAMILY MEMBERS AND OTHERS INVOLED IN YOUR CARE
Only the patient or the patient’s legal representative may obtain a copy of the patient’s medical records or authorize the release of the records to a third party. Family members, including the spouse of the patient, may not obtain a copy of the patient’s records or authorize the release of the records without the patient’s consent.
Healthcare Network may disclose relevant protected health information to a family member or friend who is involved with your care. If a family member or friend is present while care is being provided to you, the organization will assume your companion(s) may hear the discussion, unless you state otherwise.
In a disaster situation, Healthcare Network may disclose relevant protected health information to disaster relief organizations to help locate your family members or friends or to inform them of your location, condition or death.
Healthcare Network may disclose your protected health information to a business associate with whom we contract to provide services on our behalf. Federal regulations require business associates to appropriately safeguard the PHI of our patients
MINIMUM NECESSARY/INCIDENTAL DISCLOSURES AND SUPERCONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION
Healthcare Network staff will not use or disclose your protected health information unless it is necessary to perform their jobs. Access to your protected health information will be based on need to know. When you medical or payment information is disclosed, only the necessary amount of medical or other information needed to accomplish the recipient’s lawful purpose will be disclosed. Additionally, while using or disclosing your confidential information, we will take every reasonable precaution to prevent such information from being inadvertently disclosed. Healthcare Network will follow both state and federal laws related to the use and disclosure of super-confidential information such as HIV/AIDS, alcohol/substance abuse and mental health records.
OTHER POTENTIAL USES AND DISCLOSURES
This section describes the less common circumstances in which Healthcare Network may use or disclose protected health information
TO AVERT A SERIOUS THREAT OF HARM
Healthcare Network may use disclose protected health information to alert those able to prevent or lessen a serious and immediate threat to the health and safety of a patient, another person or the public.
PUBLIC HEALTH PURPOSES
Healthcare Network may disclose protected health information for public health purposes. The following are some examples of releases that are permitted for public purposes:
- To report vital statistics (e.g., births, deaths)
- To report to the federal government adverse reactions to medications or safety problems with FDA regulated products
- To notify people of product recalls
- To report communicable diseases to local, county, state and federal health officials
ORGAN AND TISSUE DONATION
If you are an organ donor, Healthcare Network may release protected health information to organizations that handle organ procurement, or organ, eye, tissue donation banks, or other health care organizations as needed to make organ and tissue donation and transplantation possible.
Healthcare Network may disclose protected health information for workers’ compensation or similar programs as authorized or required by law.
If you are a member of the United States Armed Forces, Healthcare Network may release protected health information as required by military authorities. Healthcare Network may also release protected health information about foreign military personnel to the appropriate foreign military authority. When the military organization is sponsoring the medical evaluation, the patient’s medical information is shared with both the patient and the sponsoring organization. Patients being evaluated on behalf of the military should be aware of these arrangements.
HEALTH OVERSIGHT ACTIVITIES
Healthcare Network may disclose protected health information to health oversight agencies that oversee our operations or personnel. For example, Healthcare Network may need to disclose protected health information to the state agencies that oversee our health care facilities or licensed health care personnel (e.g. ACHA, Department of Health, Medical Board, Nursing Board), or the federal agencies that oversee Medicare. These agencies need such information to monitor our compliance with state and federal laws.
LAWSUITS AND OTHER JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS
Healthcare Network may disclose protected health information in response to a valid court or administrative order. Healthcare Network may also disclose protected health information in response to certain types of subpoenas, discovery requests or other lawful process.
LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITIES
Healthcare Network may disclose protected health information to law enforcement officials. For example, we may release protected health information to law enforcement officials:
- In response to a valid court order, grand jury subpoena, or search warrant
- To identify suspect, fugitive or missing person
- About the victim of a crime under certain circumstances
- About a death as a result of criminal conduct
- About a crime committed on Healthcare Network premises
CORONERS, MEDICAL EXAMINER AND FUNERAL DIRECTORS
Healthcare Network may release protected health information to a coroner or medical examiner when necessary to identify the deceased, determine the cause of death or as otherwise authorized by law. Healthcare Network may also release protected health information to a funeral director as necessary to carry out the funeral director’s duties, including arrangements for death.
NATIONAL SECURITY ACTIVITIES
Healthcare Network may release protected health information to authorized federal officials for intelligence, counterintelligence or other national security activities authorized by law. Healthcare Network may also disclose protected health information to authorized federal officials so they may provide protection to the President or other authorized individuals.
Florida law generally requires patient consent for disclosure of protected health information by Healthcare Network for national security purposes, unless the disclosure is specifically required by federal law.
REQUIRED BY LAW
Healthcare Network will use or disclose protected health information when required by federal, state or local laws. For example, Healthcare Network is required to report certain gunshot wounds and other injuries that may have resulted from an unlawful act, and abuse or neglect of a child or vulnerable adult.
INFORMATION WITH ADDITIONAL PROTECTIONS
Certain types of protected health information may have additional protection under federal or state law. For example, protected health information about HIV/AIDS and genetic testing results is treated differently than other types of protected health information under state law. Additionally, federally assisted alcohol and drug abuse programs are subject to certain special restrictions on the use and disclosure of alcohol and drug abuse treatment information. To the extent applicable, Healthcare Network would need to get your written permission before disclosing that kind of information to others in many circumstances.
USES AND DISCLOSURES PURSUANT TO AN AUTHORIZATION
Except as described in this notice or specifically required or permitted by law, Healthcare Network will not use or disclose your protected health information without your specific written authorization. At times, a Healthcare Network facility may ask you to provide specific written permission to allow the facility to use or disclose medical information about you. A valid authorization may be revoked in writing at any time. Written revocation of authorization must be submitted to the Privacy Officer. Once authorization is revoked, Healthcare Network will no longer be permitted to use or disclose protected health information for the purpose described in the authorization except to the extent Healthcare Network has already taken action based upon the authorization.
PATIENTS’ RIGHTS WITH RESPECT TO PROTECTED HEALTH INFORMATION
This section describes the rights of Healthcare Network patients to protected health information.
RIGHT TO INSPECT AND/OR OBTAIN A COPY OF YOUR RECORDS
You have the right to inspect and/or obtain a copy of your records which includes medical and billing records maintained and used by Healthcare Network. The information contained in the record belongs to the patient and is accessible to the patient or the patient’s legal representative for review and/or to obtain copies, subject to the following provisions:
- There has been compliance with all applicable legal requirements, policies and procedures for such access and qualify as an authorized reviewer.
- The patient or legal guardian has properly completed and signed an Authorization to Release Medical Information and submitted to the Director of Health Information Management at Healthcare Network.
- Access is by scheduled appointment only, during normal business hours.
- Identification of the reviewer is provided
- Applicable copy fees are paid
- Access may be limited by the legal constraints including those governing minors, persons judged by a court to be incompetent or when in the opinion of a physician/provider, that such access to the record would be injurious to the patient’s physical or mental health or well being.
RIGHT TO REQUEST ALTERNATE METHODS OF COMMUNICATION
You have the right to request Healthcare Network communicate with you in certain ways (such as a letter or by phone) or at a certain location. For example, you may request we contact you only at your home phone number or your work phone number. In this situation, you may submit a written request to the applicable Healthcare Network entity specifying the communication method or alternate location being requested. The request should be addressed to the attention of the Office Manager of the specific Healthcare Network entity. Healthcare Network will accommodate reasonable requests. However, if the request results in not being able to collect for services, Healthcare Network reserves the right to require you to provide additional information about how payment for services will be handled.
RIGHT TO REQUEST AN AMENDMENT TO YOUR RECORDS
You have the right to request that your protected health information from Healthcare Network be amended. Requests must be submitted to: HIM Director, Healthcare Network of SW Florida, 1454 Madison Avenue, Immokalee, FL 34142.
- You are required to make your request in writing along with the supporting rationale for the requested amendment.
- The HIM Director will act on the requested amendment within sixty (60) days of submission. In reviewing the request, the HIM Director will consult with both the Medical Director and the treating provider that created the information. In matters related strictly to financial information the Chief Financial Officer will be consulted.
- When the medical record is the subject of the requested amendment both the treating provider and the Medical Director must authorize the requested amendment.
- If the request for amendment is granted, a separate writing evidencing the amendment shall be appended to or otherwise linked to the information in question. Such writing should explain, in detail, the supporting reasons for the amendment. Under no circumstances will the protected health information subject to amendment be altered, erased, modified or destroyed. Upon granting of the request to amend, Healthcare Network will notify you, as well as take reasonable steps to other person(s) or entities in possession of the prior information.
- If the request for amendment is denied, the HIM Director will notify you in writing. Healthcare Network may deny a request for amendment based upon any of the following circumstances:
- The request is not in writing.
- The request does not include a supporting reason.
- The information you want changed was not created by Healthcare Network and the originator of the information is available to make the amendment.
- The information is not part of the designated medical record.
- The information in the record is accurate and complete.
- If Healthcare Network denies your request and you still disagree with the explanation provided, you may submit your written disagreement to Healthcare Network as referenced above, or you may ask that your request for amendment and explanation of the denial be included in any future disclosure of the pertinent protected health information. If you submit a statement of disagreement, Healthcare Network may include a rebuttal statement addressing your statement of disagreement in the designated medical record.
RIGHT TO A LIST OF CERTAIN DISCLOSURES
You may request a list of persons or organizations which Healthcare Network has disclosed your protected health information. This list will not include the following:
- Disclosures to carry out treatment, payment and health care operations.
- Disclosures made directly to you (the patient) or disclosures that you specifically authorize.
- Disclosures to persons involved in your care.
- Disclosures incidental to a use or disclosure that is otherwise permitted or required by law.
- Disclosures made for national security or intelligence purposes.
- Disclosures made to correctional institutions or law enforcement officials having custody over a patient.
- Disclosures that took place before April 14, 2003.
RIGHT TO REQUEST RESTRICTIONS
You may request Healthcare Network to restrict the use or disclosure of protected health information about you for treatment, payment or health care operations. Your request must be in writing and submitted to the Director of Health Information Management. Healthcare Network will carefully consider all requests. However, because of the integrated nature of the organization’s medical record, Healthcare Network is not generally able to honor most requests, nor is the organization legally required to do so.
RIGHT TO FILE A COMPLAINT
If you want to file a complaint or express concerns about Healthcare Network’s use or disclosure of protected health information, please contact: Privacy Officer, Healthcare Network of SW Florida, 1454 Madison Avenue, Immokalee, FL 34142. You may also file a written complaint with the United States Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Civil Rights.
Healthcare Network honors your right to express concerns regarding your privacy. Healthcare Network would not take action against you for filing a concern or complaint regarding the use or disclosure of your health information. Healthcare Network reserves the right, however, to take necessary and appropriate action to maintain an environment that serves the best interests of its patients and providers.