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 questions about this notice, please contact: Carolina Ear, Nose & Throat, Privacy Officer
Effective Date: April 14, 2003 Revised: July 20, 2013 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 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 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 calling the office at 828-322-2183 and requesting that a revised copy be mailed to you or asking for one at the time of your next appointment. It can also be viewed on our website at ww.carolinaearnosethroat.com.
1. Uses and Disclosures of Protected Health Information
Uses and Disclosures of Protected Health Information Based Upon Your Written Consent. You will be asked by our office to sign. Once you have consented to use and disclosure of your protected health information for treatment, payment and health care operations by signing the consent form, your physician will use and disclose your protected health information described in Section 1. Your protected health information may be used and disclosed by your physician, our office staff and others outside 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 pay your health care bills and support the operation of the physician’s practice. Following are examples of the types of uses and disclosures of your protected health information that the physician’s office is permitted to make once you have signed our consent form. These examples are not meant to be exhaustive, but to describe the types of uses and disclosures that may be made by our office, once you have provided consent. 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 disclose protected health information to other physicians who may be treating you when we have the necessary permission from you to disclose your protected health information. 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 who, at the request of your physician, becomes involved in your care by providing assistance with your health care diagnosis or treatment. Payment: Your protected health information will be used, as needed, to obtain payment for your health care services. This may include certain activities that your health insurance 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. For example, obtaining approval for a hospital stay may require that your relevant protected health information be disclosed to the health plan to obtain approval for the hospital admission. Healthcare Operations: We may use or disclose your protected health information in order to support the business activities of your physician’s practice. These activities include, but are not limited to, quality assessment activities, employee review activities, training of medical students, licensing, marketing and fundraising activities, and conducting other business activities. For example, we may disclose your protected health information to medical school students that see patients at our office. In addition, we may use a sign-in sheet at the registration desk where you will be asked to sign your name and indicate your physician; and call you by name in the waiting room when your physician is ready to see you. We may use or disclose your protected health information, as necessary, to contact you. We may get in touch with you directly or leave a message to remind you of appointments or for other reasons related to your care. We will share your protected health information with third party “business associates” that perform various activities (e.g., billing, transcription services) for the practice. 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. 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 that may be of interest to you. We may use and disclose your protected health information for other marketing purposes. For example, your name and address may be used to send you a newsletter about our practice and the services we offer. We may send you information about products or services that we believe may be beneficial to you. You may contact our Privacy Officer to request that these materials not be sent to you. We do not engage in the use of protected health information for marketing purposes. We may use or disclose your demographic information and the dates that you received treatment from your physician, as necessary, to contact you for fundraising activities supported by our office. If you do not want to receive these materials, please contact our Privacy Officer to request these fundraising materials not be sent to you. At this time Shelby Medical Associates, PA does not engage in associated fundraising practices.
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 your physician or the physician’s practice has taken an action in reliance on the authorization.
Other Permitted and Required Uses and Disclosures That May Be Made with Your Consent, Authorization or Opportunity to 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 your physician 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: As you authorize, we may disclose to a member of your family, a relative, a close friend or any other person you identify, your protected health information. If you are unable to agree or object to such a disclosure, we may disclose such information as necessary if we determine that it is 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. 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 practical after the delivery of your 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.
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 law requires that use or disclosure. The use or disclosure will be made in compliance with the law and will be limited to the relevant requirements of the law. You will be notified, as required by law, 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 controlling disease, injury or disability. We also may 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. 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 governmental regulatory programs and civil rights laws. Abuse or Neglect: We may disclose your protected health information to a public health agency authorized by law to receive reports of child abuse or neglect. In addition, we may disclose your protected health information if we believe 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. 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, biologic product deviations, track products; to enable product recalls; to make repairs or replacements, or to conduct post marketing surveillance, as required. Legal Proceedings: We may disclose your 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. Law Enforcement: We may disclose your protected health information, so long as applicable legal requirements are met, for law enforcement purposes. These law enforcement purposes include: (1) legal processes required by law; (2) limited information requests for identification and location purposes; (3) pertaining to victims of a crime; (4) suspicion that a death has occurred as a result of criminal conduct; (5) should a crime occurs on the premises of the Practice; and (6) medical emergency (not on the Practice’s premises) likely involving a crime. 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 disclose protected health information to a funeral director, as authorized by law, in order for 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. 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. 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 to the public. We may 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 benefits; or (3) to foreign military authority if you are a member of that foreign military services. We may disclose your protected health information to authorized federal officials for conducting national security activities, including for the provision of protective services to the President or others legally authorized. Worker’s Compensation: Your protected health information may be disclosed by us as authorized to comply with Workers’ Compensation laws and other similar legally established programs. 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.
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 inspect and copy your protected health information. You may inspect and obtain a copy of your 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 your physician and the practice 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 law that prohibits access to that information. Depending on the circumstances, a decision to deny access may be reviewable. In some circumstances, you may have a right to have this decision reviewed. Please contact our Privacy Officer if you have questions about access to your medical record. You have the right to request a restriction of your protected health information. 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 have the right to restrict certain disclosures of protected health information to a health plan where the individual pays out of pocket in full for the health care item or service. You may 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. Your physician is not required to agree to a restriction that you may request. If a physician believes 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 your physician does agree to your 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 physician. You may request a restriction by:
• Contacting our Privacy Officer to request a specific protected health information restriction
• Completing any necessary and appropriate documentation of the requested restriction of protected health information
• Returning any/all necessary and appropriate documentation of the requested specific protected health information restriction to our Privacy Officer.
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. Reasonable is defined, for this purpose as normal and customary business proceedings. We will alert a patient to an unreasonable request at the time of the request for alternate means of communication or alternate location. We may condition this accommodation by asking you information as to how your payment will be handled or specification of an alternate 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 Officer. You may have the right to have your physician amend your protected health information. You may request an amendment of protected health information about you in a designated record set for as long as we maintain the information. In certain cases, we may deny your request for an amendment. If we deny your request for an 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 Officer to determine if you have questions about amending your medical record. 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 made to you, for a facility directory, to family members or friends involved in your care, or for notification purposes. You have the right to receive specific information regarding these disclosures that occurred after April 14, 2003 and may request a shorter timeframe. The right to this information is subject to certain exceptions, restrictions and limitations. You can obtain a paper copy of this notice from us, upon request, even if you have agreed to accept this notice electronically. You have a right to receive notification of any breach of your protected health information. 3. Complaints You may file a complaint to Carolina Ear, Nose & Throat HNSC, PA or to the Secretary of Health and Human Services if you believe your privacy has been violated. We will not retaliate against you for filing a complaint. Your complaint must be submitted in writing no later than 180 days from the perception of a violation related to your protected health information. To file a complaint at Carolina Ear, Nose & Throat HNSC, PA, use the following address. You may contact our Privacy Officer at 828-322-2183 to discuss any perceived violation of your protected health information.
Attn: Privacy Officer • Carolina Ear, Nose & Throat Sinus and Allergy Center, PA • 256-C 10th Avenue NE • Hickory NC 28601
To file a complaint to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, use the following address: Office of the Secretary, US Department of Health and Human Services, 200 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 2020. To contact the Region IV Office of the Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights, call: 404-562-7886.