Effective Date: April 14, 2003
This notice describes how medical information about you may be used and disclosed and how you can get access to this information
We understand that information about you and your health care is personal. We are committed to protecting health information about you. We create a record of the care and services you receive from us. 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 Neighborhood Healthcare’s practice, whether made by your personal doctor or others working in Neighborhood Healthcare’s offices.
San Diego Centers
Our primary responsibility is to make sure that health information that identifies you is kept private. We must also give you this notice of our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to health information about you, and follow the terms of the notice that is currently in effect.
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 health information we already have about you as well as any information we receive in the future. We will post a copy of the current notice in our facilities. The notice will contain on the first page, in the top right-hand corner, the effective date and at the bottom of each sheet, the revision date. In addition, each time you register for treatment of health care services, we will offer you a copy of the current notice in effect.
Complaints – If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you may file a complaint with Neighborhood Healthcare or the Secretary of Department of Health and Human Services, 200 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20201. You may also file a complaint with the California Office of Information Integrity (CALOHI) by e-mail to email@example.com or by calling 888-549-8674. To file a complaint with us, request a complaint form from the receptionist at your clinic, complete and submit. All complaints must be submitted in writing. You will not be penalized for filing a complaint.
The following categories describe different ways that we use and disclose health 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 health information about you to provide you with health care treatment or services. We may disclose health information about you to doctors, nurses, technicians, health students, or other personnel who are involved in your care. They may work at our offices, at the hospital if you are hospitalized, or at another doctor’s office, lab or pharmacy. They may also work at another health care provider to whom we may refer you for consultation, to take x-rays, to perform lab tests, to have prescriptions filled or for other treatment purposes. For example, a doctor treating you for a broken leg may need to know if you have diabetes because diabetes may slow the healing process. In addition, the doctor may need to tell the dietitian at the hospital if you have diabetes so that we can arrange for appropriate meals.
Students Involved in Your Care: Students, interns and residents in healthcare programs work in our clinics from time to time to meet their educational requirements or to get healthcare experience. These individuals may observe or participate in your treatment or use health information about you to assist in their training. You have the right to refuse to be examined, observed or treated by any student, intern or resident. If you do not want a student, intern or resident to participate in your care please notify your provider.
For Payment: We may use and disclose health information about you so that the treatment and services you receive from us may be billed to and payment collected from you, an insurance company, or a third party. For example, we may contact your health insurer to verify your eligibility for benefits or we may give your health plan information about your office visit so your health plan will pay us or reimburse you for the visit. 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 health information about you for operations of our health care practice. These uses and disclosures are necessary to run our practice and make sure that all of our patients receive quality care. For example, we may use health information to review our treatment and services and to evaluate the performance of our staff in caring for you. We may also combine health information about many patients to decide what additional services we should offer, what services are not needed, whether certain new treatments are effective and to see where we can make improvements. We may remove information that identifies you from this set of health information so others may use it to study health care delivery without learning who our specific patients are.
Business Associates: We sometimes contract with other companies or individuals for services. Examples would be medical record storage companies, billing services, answering services and consultants. We may disclose your health information to them so that they can perform the job we have asked them to do. To protect your health information we have contracts with each of these companies and/or individuals and they are held to the same standards of privacy as we are.
For Appointment Reminders: We may use and disclose health information to contact you as a reminder that you have an appointment. We will usually call you at home and/or on the cell phone number provided the day before your appointment and leave a message for you, on your answering machine or with an individual who responds to our telephone call. Please let us know if you do not wish to have us contact you concerning your appointment, or if you wish to have us use a different telephone number or address to contact you for this purpose.
Research That Doesn’t Involve Your Treatment: Under certain circumstances, we may use and disclose health 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 health information, trying to balance the research needs with patients’ need for privacy of their health information. Before we use or disclose health information for research, the project will have been approved through a research approval process; but we may disclose health information about you to people preparing to conduct a research project. For example, we may help potential researchers look for patients with specific health needs, so long as the health information they review does not leave our facility. We will always ask for your specific permission if the researcher will have access to your name, address, or other information that reveals who you are.
Release of Information to Family/Friends: Our providers and staff, using their professional judgment, may disclose to a family member of yours, a close personal friend or any other person you identify, your health information to the extent it is relevant to that person’s involvement in your care or payment related to your care. We will provide you with an opportunity to object to such a disclosure whenever practical. We may disclose the health information of minor children to their parents or guardians unless such disclosure is prohibited by law.
Use of your health information not covered by our current Notice of Privacy Practices or laws that apply to us will be made only with your written authorization. This would include disclosures of psychotherapy notes, disclosures that would constitute a sale of information and disclosures of information used for marketing. If you provide us permission to use or disclose health 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 heath information about you for the reasons covered by your written authorization. You understand that we are unable to take back 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.
Psychotherapy notes: Psychotherapy notes means notes recorded (in any medium) by a health care provider who is a mental health professional documenting or analyzing the contents of conversation during a private counseling session or a group, joint, or family counseling session and that are separated from the rest of the individual’s medical record. Psychotherapy notes excludes medication prescription and monitoring, counseling session start and stop times, the modalities and frequencies of treatment furnished, results of clinical tests, and any summary of the following items: diagnosis, functional status, the treatment plan, symptoms, prognosis, and progress to date.
We may disclose your psychotherapy notes, as required by law, or:
Drug & Alcohol Abuse Treatment Disclosures: We will disclose drug and alcohol treatment information about you only in accordance with the federal Privacy Act. In general, the Privacy Act requires your written authorization for such disclosures.
Military and Veterans: If you are a member of the armed forces or separated/discharged from military services, we may release health information about you as required by military command authorities or the Department of Veterans Affairs as may be applicable. We may also release health information about foreign military personnel to the appropriate foreign military authorities.
Workers Compensation: We may release health information about you for workers’ compensation or similar programs. These programs provide benefits for work-related injuries or illness.
To Avert a Serious Threat to Health or Safety: We may use and disclose health information about you when necessary to prevent a serious threat to your health and safety or the health and safety of the public. Any disclosure, however, would only be to someone able to help prevent the threat.
Public Health Risks: We may disclose health information about you for public health activities. These activities generally include the following:
Health Oversight Activities:We may disclose health information to a health oversight agency or activity 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.
As Required by law: We will disclose health information about you when required to do so by federal, state, or local law.
Lawsuits and Disputes: If you are involved in a lawsuit or a dispute, we may disclose health information about you in response to a court or administrative order. We may also disclose health information about you in response to a subpoena, discovery request, 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 health information if asked to do so by a law enforcement official:
Coroners, Health Examiners and Funeral Directors: We may release health information to a coroner or health examiner. This may be necessary, for example, to identify a deceased person or determine the cause of death. We may also release health information about patients to funeral directors as necessary to carry out their duties.
National Security and Intelligence Activities: We may release health 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 health 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 health 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.
For Health Information Exchange: We may share your health information with other health care providers or other health care entities, such as your health plan or health insurer, as permitted by law, through Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) in which we participate. You may be asked to “opt-in” in order to share your information with HIEs, or you may be provided the opportunity to “opt-out” of HIE participation. HIEs allow your Neighborhood Healthcare and non-Neighborhood Healthcare providers to efficiently access your medical information that is necessary for treating you and other lawful purposes. We will not share your information with an HIE unless the HIE is subject to HIPAA’s privacy and security requirements.
You have the following rights regarding health information we maintain about you:
Right to Inspect and Copy: You have the right to inspect and copy health information that may be used to make decisions about your care. Usually, this includes health and billing records.
To inspect or obtain a copy of health information that may be used to make decisions about you, you must submit your request in writing to a receptionist or medical records clerk at your primary care site. If you request a copy of the information, we may charge a fee for the costs of copying, mailing or other supplies and services associated with your request.
Because we maintain your health information in an electronic health record, you also have the right to request that an electronic copy of your record be sent to you or to another individual or entity. We may charge you a reasonable cost based fee limited to labor costs associated with transmitting the electronic health record.
We may deny your request to inspect and copy in certain very limited circumstances. If you are denied access to health information, you may request that the denial be reviewed. Another licensed health care professional chosen by our practice 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 health 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 we keep the information. To request an amendment, your request must be made in writing, submitted to our Privacy Officer, and must be contained on one page of paper legibly handwritten or typed in at least 10 point font size. In addition, you must provide a reason that supports your request for an amendment.
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:
Any amendment we make to your health information will be disclosed to those with whom we disclose information as previously specified.
Right to an Accounting of Disclosures: You have the right to request a list accounting for any disclosures of your health information we have made, except for uses and disclosures for treatment, payment, and health care operations, as previously described.
To request this list 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. 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. We will mail you a list of disclosures in paper form within 30 days of your request, or notify you if we are unable to supply the list within that time period and by what date we can supply the list; but this date will not exceed a total of 60 days from the date you made the request.
Right to Request Restrictions: You have the right to request a restriction or limitation on the health information we use or disclose about you for treatment, payment, or health care operations. You also have the right to request a limit on the health information we disclose about you to someone who is involved in your care or the payment for your care, such as a family member or friend. For example, you could ask that we restrict a specified nurse from use of your information, or that we not disclose information to your spouse about a surgery you had.
We are not required to agree to your request for restrictions if it is not feasible for us to ensure our compliance or believe it will negatively impact the care we may provide you. If we do agree, we will comply with your request unless the information is needed to provide you emergency treatment. To request a restriction, you must make your request in writing to our Privacy Officer. In your request, you must tell us what information you want to limit and to whom you want the limits to apply; for example, use of any information by a specified nurse, or disclosure of specified surgery to your spouse.
If you paid out of pocket for a specific item or service, and you paid in full, you have the right to request that the medical information with respect to that item or service not be disclosed to a health plan for purposes of payment or health care operations.
Right to Request Confidential Communications: You have the right to request that we communicate with you about health matters in a certain way or at a certain location. For example, you can ask that we only contact you at work or by mail to a post office box.
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 Receive Notice of a Breach: We are required to notify you by first class mail or by e-mail if you have indicated that as your preference, of any breaches of Protected Health Information as soon as possible, but in any event, no later than 60 days following discovery of the breach. We give you the following information:
Right to a Paper Copy of This Notice: You have the right to obtain a paper copy of this notice at any time. To obtain a copy, please request it from the receptionist at your clinic.
You may also obtain a copy of this notice either from our website, www.nhcare.org, or by requesting that a copy of this notice be sent through electronic mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. If we know that the electronic message has failed to be delivered, a paper copy of the notice will be provided. Even if you have received a notice electronically, you still retain the right to receive a paper copy upon request.
We reserve the right to change this notice. We reserve the right to make the revised or changed notice effective for health information we already have about you as well as any information we receive in the future. We will post a copy of the current notice in our facility. The notice will contain on the first page, in the top right-hand corner, the effective date and at the bottom of each sheet, the revision date. In addition, each time you register for treatment or health care services, we will offer you a copy of the current notice in effect.
Acknowledgement of Receipt of this Notice
We will request that you sign a separate form acknowledging that you have received a copy of this notice. If you choose, or are not able to sign, a staff member will sign their name. This acknowledgement will be filed with your records. If you have any questions about this notice, please contact Terri Vise, Director of Compliance and Government Relations, at (760) 520-8300.