Digestive Health Center

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NOTICE OF PRIVACY POLICIES FOR PASADENA GASTROENTEROLOGY ASSOCIATES, P.A. DIGESTIVE HEALTH CENTER

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.

At Digestive Health Center, we are committed to treating and using protected health information (PHI) about you responsibly. This Notice of Privacy Practices describes how we may use and disclose your protected health information to carry out treatment, payment or health care operations and for other purposes that are permitted or required by law. It also describes your right to access and control your protected health information. “Protected health information” 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 and related health care services.

Understanding Your Health Record/Information Each time you visit Digestive Health Center; a record of your visit is made. Typically, this record contains your symptoms, examination and test results, diagnoses, treatment, and a plan for future care or treatment. This information, often referred to as your health or medical record, serves as a:

  • Basis for planning your care and treatment,
  • Means of communication among the many health professionals who contribute to your care,
  • Legal document describing the care you received,
  • Means by which you or a third-party payer can verify that services billed were actually provided,
  • A tool in educating health professionals,
  • A source of data for medical research,
  • A source of information for public health officials charged with improving the health of this state and the nation,
  • A source of data for our planning and marketing,
  • A tool with which we can assess and continually work to improve the care we render and the outcomes we achieve,

Understanding what is in your record and how your health information is used helps you to: ensure its accuracy, better understand who, what, when, where, and why others may access your health information, and make more informed decisions when authorizing disclosure to others.

Your Health Information Rights
Although your health record is the physical property of Digestive Health Center, the information belongs to you. You have the right to:

  • Obtain a paper copy of this notice of information practices upon request,
  • Inspect and copy your health record as provided for in 45 CFR 164.524,
  • Amend your health record as provided in 45 CFR 164.528,
  • Obtain an accounting of disclosures of your health information as provided in 45 CFR 164.528,
  • Request communications of your health information by alternative means or at alternative locations,
  • Request a restriction on certain uses and disclosures of your information as provided by 45 CFR 164.522,
  • Revoke your authorization to use or disclose health information except to the extent that action has already been taken.

Our Responsibilities
Digestive Health Center is required to:

  • Maintain the privacy of your health information,
  • Provide you with this notice as to our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to information we collect and maintain about you,
  • Abide by the terms of this notice,
  • Notify you if we are unable to agree to a requested restriction,
  • Accommodate reasonable requests you may have to communicate health information by alternative means or at alternative locations.

Faxing and Emailing Rule
When you request us to fax or email your PHI as an alternative communication and we agree to do so, we may fax or email super-confidential information; we will not use fax or email for emergency communication without knowing that the recipient is expecting the message; have only our privacy officer or treating doctor fax or email your PHI; have our privacy officer confirm that the fax number or email address is correct before sending the message and ensure that the intended recipient has sole acce3ss to the fax machine or computer before sending the message; confirm receipt, locate our fax machine or computer in a secure location so unauthorized access and viewing is prevented; use a fax cover sheet so the PHI is not the first page to print out (because unauthorized persons may view the top page); and attach an appropriate notice to the message.

Inactive Patient Records
We will retain your records for seven years from your last treatment or examination, at which point you will become an inactive patient in our practice and we may destroy your records at that time (but records of inactive minor patients will not be destroyed before the child’s eighth birthday). We will do so only in accordance with the law (i.e. in a confidential manner, with a Business Associate agreement prohibiting re-disclosure if necessary).

Collections and Marketing
If we use or disclose your PHI for marketing (i.e. communications that encourage recipients to purchase or use a product or service) or collections purposes, we will do so only in accordance with the law.

We reserve the right to change our practices and to make the new provisions effective for all protected health information we maintain. Should our information practices change, we will post these changes in our office.

We will not use or disclose your health information without your authorization, except as described in this notice. We will also discontinue to use or disclose your health information after we have received a written revocation of the authorization according to the procedures included in the authorization.

For More Information or to Report a Problem
If you have questions and would like additional information, you may contact one of the practice’s Privacy Officers at (713) 946-9513.

If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you can file a complaint with one of the practice’s Privacy Officers, or with the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. There will be no retaliation for filing a complaint with either the Privacy Officer or the Office for Civil Rights.

The address for the OCR is listed below:
Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Room 509F, HHH Building
Washington, D.C. 20201

Examples of Disclosures for Treatment, Payment and Health Operations

We will use your health information for treatment.
For example: Information obtained by a nurse, physician, or other member of your health care team will be recorded in your record and used to determine the course of treatment that should work best for you. Your physician will document in your record his or her expectations of the members of your health care team. Members of your health care team will then record the actions they took and their observations. In that way, the physician will know how you are responding to treatment.

We will also provide your physician or a subsequent health care provider with copies of various reports that should assist him or her in treating you once you’re discharged from this hospital.

We will use your health information for payment.
For example: A bill may be sent to you or a third-party payer. The information on or accompanying the bill may include information that identifies you, as well as your diagnosis, procedures, and supplies used.

We will use your health information for regular health operations.
Risk Management: Members of the medical staff, the risk or quality improvement manager, or members of the quality improvement team may use information in your health record to assess the care and outcomes in your case and others like it. This information will then be used in an effort to continually improve the quality and effectiveness of the healthcare and service we provide.

Business Associates: There are some services provided in our organization through contacts with business associates. Examples include physician services in the emergency department and radiology, certain laboratory tests, and a copy service we use when making copies of your health record. When these services are contracted, we may disclose your health information to our business associate 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, however, we require the business associate to appropriately safeguard your information.

Directory: Unless you notify us that you object, we will use your name, location in the facility, general condition, and religious affiliation for directory purposes. This information may be provided to members of the clergy and, except for religious affiliation, to other people who ask for you by name.

Notification: We may use or disclose information to notify or assist in notifying a family member, personal representative, or another person responsible for your care, your location, and general condition.

Communication with Family: Health professionals, using their best judgment, may disclose to a family member, other relative, close personal friend or any other person you identify, health information relevant to that person’s involvement in your care or payment related to your care.

Emergencies: We may use or disclose your protected health information in an emergency treatment situation. If this happens, your physician shall try to obtain your consent as soon as reasonably practicable after the delivery of treatment. If your physician or another physician in the practice is required by law to treat you and the physician has attempted to obtain your consent but is unable to obtain your consent, he or she may still use or disclose your protected health information to treat you.

Communication Barriers: We may use and disclose your protected health information if your physician or another physician in the practice attempts to obtain consent from you but is unable to do so due to substantial communication barriers and the physician determines, using professional judgment, that you intend to consent to use or disclosure under the circumstances.

Communicable Diseases: We may disclose your protected health information, 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 protected health information to a health oversight agency for activities authorized by law, such as audits, investigations, and inspections. Oversight agencies seeking this information include government agencies that oversee the health care system, government benefit programs, other government regulatory programs and civil rights laws.

Abuse or Neglect: We may disclose your protected health information to a public health authority that is authorized by law to receive reports of child abuse or neglect. In addition, we may disclose your protected health information if we believe that you have been a victim of abuse, neglect or domestic violence to the governmental entity or agency authorized to receive such information. In this case, the disclosure will be made consistent with the requirements of applicable federal and state laws.

Research: We may disclose your protected health information to researchers when their research has been approved by an institutional review board that has reviewed the research proposal and established protocols to ensure the privacy of your protected health information.

Coroners, Funeral Directors, and Organ Donation: We may disclose protected health information to a coroner or medical examiner for identification purposes, determining cause of death or for the coroner or medical examiner to perform other duties authorized by law. We may also disclose protected health information to a funeral director, as authorized by law, in order to permit the funeral director to carry out their duties. We may disclose such information in reasonable anticipation of death. Protected health information may be used and disclosed for cadaveric organ, eye or tissue donation purposes.

Organ Procurement Organizations: Consistent with applicable law, we may disclose health information to organ procurement organizations or other entities engaged in the procurement, banking, or transplantation of organs for the purpose of tissue donation and transplant.

Marketing: We may contact you to provide appointment reminders or information about treatment alternatives or other health-related benefits and services that may be of interest to you.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA): We may disclose to the FDA health information relative to adverse events with respect to food, supplements, product and product defects, or post marketing surveillance information to enable product recalls, repairs, or replacement.

Workers Compensation: We may disclose health information to the extent authorized by and to the extent necessary to comply with laws relating to workers compensation or other similar programs established by law.

Public Health: As required by law, we may disclose your health information to public health or legal authorities charged with preventing or controlling disease, injury, or disability. Correctional Institution: Should you be an inmate of a correctional institution, we may disclose to the institution or agents thereof health information necessary for your health and the health and safety of other individuals.

Law Enforcement: We may disclose health information for law enforcement purposes as required by law or in response to a valid subpoena.

Legal Proceedings: We may disclose protected health information in the course of any judicial or administrative proceeding, in response to an order of a court or administrative tribunal (to the extent such disclosure is expressly authorized), in certain conditions in response to a subpoena, discovery request or other lawful process.

Criminal Activity: Consistent with applicable federal and state laws, we may disclose your protected health information, 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. We may also disclose protected health information if it is necessary for law enforcement authorities to identify or apprehend an individual.

Military Activity and National Security: When the appropriate conditions apply, we may use or disclose protected health information of individuals who are Armed Forces personnel (1) for activities deemed necessary by appropriate military command authorities; (2) for the purpose of a determination by the Department of Veterans Affairs of your eligibility for benefits, or (3) to foreign military authority if you are a member of that foreign military services. We may also disclose your protected health information to authorized federal officials for conducting national security and intelligence activities, including for the provision of protective services to the President or others legally authorized.

Inmates: We may use or disclose your protected health information if you are an inmate of a correctional facility and your physician created or received your protected health information in the course of providing care to you.

Required Uses and Disclosures: Under the law, we must make disclosures to you and when required by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to investigate or determine our compliance with the requirements of Section 164.500 et. seq. Federal law makes provision for your health information to be released to an appropriate health oversight agency, public health authority or attorney, provided that a work force member or business associate believes in good faith that we have engaged in unlawful conduct or have otherwise violated professional or clinical standards and are potentially endangering one or more patients, workers or the public.

Notice of Privacy Policies Revision Number 0001, 11/07/02