Notice of Privacy Practices

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

If you have any questions about this Notice please contact: Director of Human Resources by calling (830) 643-5859.

We are required by law to maintain the privacy of protected health information and to provide patients with notice of our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to protected health information. 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 rights 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.

We are required to abide by the terms of this Notice of Privacy Practices. We may change the terms of our notice, at any time. The new notice will be effective for all protected health information that we maintain at that time. Upon your request, we will provide you with any revised Notice of Privacy Practices by either mailing the revised Notice to an address you provide or by delivering a revised Notice to you at our office.

1. USES AND DISCLOSURES OF PROTECTED HEALTH INFORMATION

Uses and Disclosures of Protected Health Information for Treatment, Payment and Health Care Operations

We are permitted to use and disclose your protected health information for treatment, payment and health care operations as described in this Section 1. Your protected health information may be used and disclosed by us and others outside of our office that are involved in your care and treatment for the purpose of providing health care services to you. Your protected health information may also be used and disclosed to facilitate payment of your health care bills and to support our operations.

Following are examples of the types of uses and disclosures of your protected health care information that we are permitted to make. These examples are not meant to be exhaustive, but to describe the types of uses and disclosures that may be made by our office.

Treatment: We will use and disclose your protected health information to provide, coordinate, or manage your health care and any related services. This includes the coordination or management of your health care with a third party that has already obtained your permission to have access to your protected health information. For example, we would disclose your protected health information, as necessary, to a home health agency that provides care to you. We will also disclose protected health information to other physicians and health care providers who may be treating you. For example, your protected health information 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 protected health information from time-to-time to another physician or health care provider (e.g., a specialist or laboratory) who, at our request, becomes involved in your care by providing assistance with your health care diagnosis or treatment.

Payment: Your protected health information may be used, as needed, to obtain payment for your health care services. This may include certain activities that a payor (whether a governmental entity or private insurance or other health 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.

Healthcare Operations: We may use or disclose, as-needed, your protected health information in order to support the business activities of our office. These activities include, but are not limited to: quality assessment activities; employee review activities; training of medical students, other practitioners, or non-health care professionals; accreditation; certification; licensing; credentialing; and conducting or arranging for other business activities. For example, we may use and disclose your protected health information when training and reviewing our staff.

We may use or disclose your protected health information, as necessary, to contact you to remind you of upcoming appointments.

We will share your protected health information with third party business associates that perform various activities (e.g., auditing, legal) for us. Whenever an arrangement between our office and a business associate involves the use or disclosure of your protected health information, we will have a written contract that contains terms that will protect the privacy of your protected health information. This requirement will not apply if the business associate is a health care component designated by our governing body.

We may use or disclose your protected health information, as necessary, to provide you with information about treatment alternatives or other health-related benefits and services we offer that may be of interest to you. You may contact our Privacy Official to request that these materials not be sent to you.

Emergencies: We may use or disclose your protected health information in an emergency treatment situation.

Other Uses and Disclosures of Protected Health Information Based upon Your Written Authorization

Other uses and disclosures of your protected health information will be made only with your written authorization, unless otherwise permitted or required by law as described below. You may revoke this authorization, at any time, in writing, except to the extent that we have taken an action in reliance on the use or disclosure indicated in the authorization.

Other Permitted Uses and Disclosures to Which You May Agree or Object

We may use and disclose your protected health information in the following instances. You have the opportunity to agree or object to the use or disclosure of all or part of your protected health information. If you are not present or able to agree or object to the use or disclosure of the protected health information, then we may, using professional judgment, determine whether the disclosure is in your best interest. In this case, only the protected health information that is relevant to your health care will be disclosed.

Others Involved in Your Healthcare: Unless you object, we may disclose to a member of your family, a relative, a close friend or any other person you identify, your protected health information that directly relates to that persons involvement in your health care. If you are not present or unable to agree or object to such a disclosure because of your incapacity or an emergency circumstance, we may disclose such information as necessary if we determine that it is in your best interest based on our professional judgment. We may use or disclose protected health information to notify or assist in notifying a family member, personal representative or any other person that is responsible for your care of your location, general condition or death. Finally, we may use or disclose your protected health information to an authorized public or private entity to assist in disaster relief efforts and to coordinate uses and disclosures to family or other individuals involved in your health care.

Other Permitted and Required Uses and Disclosures That May Be Made Without Your Consent, Authorization or Opportunity to Object

We may use or disclose your protected health information in the following situations without your consent or authorization. These situations include:

Required By Law: We may use or disclose your protected health information 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. If required by law, you will be notified of any such uses or disclosures.

Public Health: We may disclose your protected health information for public health activities and purposes to a public health authority that is permitted by law to collect or receive the information. The disclosure will be made for the purpose of controlling disease, injury or disability. We may also disclose your protected health information, if directed by the public health authority, to a foreign government agency that is collaborating with the public health authority.

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.

Abuse or Neglect: We may disclose your protected health information to a public health authority or other government authority that is authorized by law to receive reports of child abuse or neglect. In addition, if we believe that you have been a victim of abuse, neglect or domestic violence we may disclose your protected health information 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.

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.

Food and Drug Administration: We may disclose your protected health information to a person or company required by the Food and Drug Administration to report adverse events, product defects or problems, biological product deviations; to track products; to enable product recalls; to make repairs or replacements; or to conduct post marketing surveillance, as required.

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), and in response to a subpoena, discovery request or other lawful process as permitted by law.

Law Enforcement: We may disclose protected health information, so long as applicable legal requirements are met, for law enforcement purposes. Such disclosures include (1) the reporting of certain physical injuries; (2) responding to legal processes; (3) providing limited information for identification and location purposes, (4) providing law enforcement officials with information pertaining to victims of a crime; (5) reporting deaths possibly resulting from criminal conduct; (6) reporting a crime that occurs on our premises; and (7) reporting criminal activity outside our premises that results in emergency medical services.

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 his/her 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.

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.

Serious Threat to Health or Safety: 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 certain other individuals.

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

Workers’ Compensation: Your protected health information may be disclosed by us as authorized to comply with workers compensation laws and other similar legally-established programs.

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 Title 45, Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 160 and 164.

2. YOUR RIGHTS

Following is a statement of your rights with respect to your protected health information and a brief description of how you may exercise these rights.

You have the right to request a restriction of your protected health information. This means you may ask us not to use or disclose any part of your protected health information for the purposes of treatment, payment or healthcare operations. You may also request that any part of your protected health information not be disclosed to family members or friends who may be involved in your care or for notification purposes as described in this Notice of Privacy Practices. Your request must state the specific restriction requested and to whom you want the restriction to apply.

We are not required to agree to a restriction that you may request. If we believe it is in your best interest to permit use and disclosure of your protected health information, your protected health information will not be restricted. If we agree to the requested restriction, we may not use or disclose your protected health information in violation of that restriction unless it is needed to provide emergency treatment. With this in mind, please discuss any restriction you wish to request with your health care provider. You may request a restriction by completing a Restriction of use and Disclosures Request Form, which you may obtain from our Privacy Official.

You have the right to request to receive confidential communications from us by alternative means or at an alternative location. 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 Official.

You have the right to inspect and copy your protected health information. This means you may inspect and obtain a copy of protected health information about you that is contained in a designated record set for as long as we maintain the protected health information. 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 the following records: psychotherapy notes; information compiled in reasonable anticipation of, or use in, a civil, criminal, or administrative action or proceeding; and protected health information that is subject to any law that prohibits access to protected health information. Depending on the circumstances, a decision to deny access may be reviewable. Please contact our Privacy Official if you have questions about access to your medical record.

You may have the right to have us amend your protected health information. This means you may request an amendment of protected health information about you in a designated record set for as long as we maintain this information. Requests for amendment must be in writing and must provide a reason to support each requested amendment. 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 any such rebuttal. Please contact our Privacy Official if you have questions about amending your protected health information.

You have the right to receive an accounting of certain disclosures we have made, if any, of your protected health information. This right applies to disclosures for purposes other than treatment, payment or healthcare operations as described in this Notice of Privacy Practices. It excludes disclosures we may have made to you, to family members or friends involved in your care, for notification purposes, and for other purposes, as permitted by law. You have the right to receive specific information regarding these disclosures that occurred after April 14, 2003 and during the six years prior to your request. You may request a shorter timeframe. The right to receive this information is subject to certain exceptions, restrictions and limitations.

You have the right to obtain a paper copy of this notice from us, upon request, even if you have agreed to accept this notice electronically.

3. Complaints

You may complain to us or to the Secretary of Health and Human Services if you believe your privacy rights have been violated by us. You may file a complaint with us by notifying the person named below of your complaint. We will not retaliate against you for filing a complaint.

For further information about the complaint process, or to file a complaint, contact:

Comal County Director of Human Resources

150 N. Seguin (Mailing) / 1297 Church Hill Dr (Physical)

New Braunfels, Texas 78130

Phone: (830) 643-5859

Fax: (830) 620-3468

For further information about filing a complaint with the Secretary of Health and Human Servers, or to file a complaint, contact:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights

Medical Privacy, Complaint Division

200 Independence Avenue, SW

HHH Building, Room 509H

Washington, D.C. 20201

Phone: 866-627-7748

TTY: 886-788-4989

This notice was published and becomes effective on April 14, 2003.

Reviewed April 2014