Notice of Privacy Practices
Effective Date: February 17, 2010
This notice describes how health 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 the Executive Director at 406-357-2294.
Each time you visit a hospital, physician, or other healthcare provider, a record of your visit is made. Typically, this record contains your symptoms, examination and test results, diagnoses, treatment, a plan for future care or treatment, and billing-related information. This notice applies to all of the records of your care generated at Sweet Medical Center, Inc.
We are required by law to maintain the privacy of your health information and provide you a description of our privacy practices. We will abide by the terms of this notice.
Uses and Disclosures
The following categories describe examples of the way we use and disclose health information:
For Treatment: We may use health information about you to provide you treatment or services. We may disclose health information about you to doctors, nurses, or other facility personnel who are involved in taking care of you at the facility. For example: a doctor treating you for a broken finger may need to know if you have diabetes because diabetes may slow the healing process. Different departments of the facility also may share health information about you in order to coordinate the different things you may need, such as prescriptions, lab work, and x-rays.
For Payment: We may use and disclose health information about your treatment and services to bill and collect payment from you, your insurance company or a third party payer. For example, we may need to give your insurance company information about your treatment so they will pay us or reimburse you for the treatment. We may also tell your health plan about treatment you are going to receive to determine whether your plan will cover it.
For Health Care Operations: Members of the medical staff may use information in your health record to assess the care and outcomes in your case and others like it. The results will then be used to improve the quality of care for all patients we serve. For example, we may combine health information about many patients to evaluate the need for new services or treatment. We may disclose information to staff members for educational purposes. And we may combine health information we have with that of other facilities to see where we can make improvements. We may remove information that identifies you from this set of health information to protect your privacy.
We may also use and disclose health information:
• To business associates we have contracted with to perform the agreed upon service and billing for it;
• To remind you that you have an appointment for medical care;
• To assess your satisfaction with our services;
• To tell you about health-related benefits or services;
• For population based activities relating to improving health or reducing health care costs; and
• For conducting training programs or reviewing competence of health care professionals.
When disclosing information, primarily appointment reminders and billing/collections efforts, we may leave messages on your answering machine/voice mail.
Business Associates: There are some services provided through contracts with business associates. Examples include physician services in the emergency department and radiology, and certain laboratory tests. When these services are contracted, we may disclose your health information to our business associates so that they can perform the job we've asked them to do and bill you or your third-party payer for services rendered. To protect your health information, business associates are required by federal law to appropriately safeguard your information.
Individuals Involved in Your Care or Payment for Your Care: We may release health information about you to a friend or family member who is involved in your medical care or who helps pay for your care. In addition, we may disclose health 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.
As required by law, we may also use and disclose health information for the following types of entities, including but not limited to:
• Food and Drug Administration
• Public Health or Legal Authorities charged with preventing or controlling disease, injury or disability
• Correctional Institutions
• Workers Compensation Agents
• Organ and Tissue Donation Organizations
• Military Command Authorities
• Health Oversight Agencies
• Funeral Directors, Coroners and Medical Directors
• National Security and Intelligence Agencies
Law Enforcement/Legal Proceedings: We may disclose health information for law enforcement purposes as required by law or in response to a valid subpoena.
Your Health Information Rights
Although your health record is the physical property of the healthcare practitioner or facility that compiled it, you have the Right to:
• Inspect and Copy: You have the right to inspect and obtain a copy of the health information that may be used to make decisions about your care. This includes medical and billing records. We may deny your request to inspect and copy in certain very limited circumstances, if the healthcare professional feels you might be harmed by learning the information contained in the record. If you are denied access to health information, you may request that the denial be reviewed. Another licensed health care professional chosen by the facility 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.
• 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 the information is kept by Sweet Medical Center, Inc. Any request for an amendment must be sent in writing to the Executive Director. We may deny your request for an amendment. If this occurs, you will be notified of the reason for the denial.
• An Accounting of Disclosures: You have the right to request an accounting of disclosures. This is a list of certain disclosures we make of your health information for purposes other than treatment, payment or health care operations where an authorization was not required.
• 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, like a family member or friend. For example, you could ask that we not use or disclose information about a surgery you had. Any request for a restriction must be sent in writing to the Executive Director.
We are required to agree to your request only if 1) except as otherwise required by law, the disclosure is to your health plan and the purpose is related to payment or health care operations (and not treatment purposes), and 2) your information pertains solely to health care services for which you have paid in full. For other requests, we are not required to agree. If we do agree, we will comply with your request unless the information is needed to provide you emergency treatment
• 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 may ask that we contact you at work instead of your home. The facility will grant reasonable requests for confidential communications at alternative locations and/or via alternative means only if the request is submitted in writing and the written request includes a mailing address where the individual will receive bills for services rendered by the facility and related correspondence regarding payment for services. Please realize, we reserve the right to contact you by other means and at other locations if you fail to respond to any communication from us that requires a response. We will notify you in accordance with your original request prior to attempting to contact you by other means or at another location.
• A Paper Copy of This Notice: You have the right to a copy of this notice. You may ask us to give you a copy of this notice at any time or you may print or view a copy of this notice from our website.
To exercise any of your rights, please your request in writing to the Executive Director.
Changes to this Notice
We reserve the right to change this notice and the revised or changed notice will be effective for information we already have about you as well as any information we receive in the future. The current notice will be posted in the facility and on our website and include the effective date.
If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you may file a complaint with the facility to the Executive Director. You may also file a complaint with the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. All complaints must be submitted in writing. You will not be penalized for filing a complaint.
Other Uses of Health Information
Other uses and disclosures of health 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 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 health 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.