St. Mary Medical Center
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.
Effective Date: April 14, 2003
Reviewed date: March, 2012
If you have any questions about this notice, please contact the St. Mary Privacy Officer at 215-710-5272
I. WHO WILL FOLLOW THIS NOTICE
This notice describes the practices of St. Mary Medical Center. It applies to:
•Any healthcare professional authorized to enter information into your medical record.
•All departments and units of the hospital.
•Any member of a volunteer group we allow to help you while you are in the hospital.
•All employees, staff, students and other hospital personnel.
All St. Mary Medical Center facilities and Catholic Health East follow the terms of this notice. In addition, the above persons, entities, sites, and locations may share medical information with each other for treatment, payment, or hospital operations purposes as described in this notice.
II.OUR PLEDGE REGARDING MEDICAL INFORMATION
We understand that medical information about you and your health is personal. We are committed to protecting medical information about you. We create a record of the care and services you receive at the hospital. 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 the hospital, whether made by hospital personnel or your personal doctor. Your personal doctor may have different policies or notices regarding the doctor's use and disclosure of your medical information created in the doctor's office or clinic.
This notice will tell you about the ways in which we may use and disclose medical information about you. We also describe your rights and certain obligations we have regarding the use and disclosure of medical information.
We are required by law to:
•Make sure that medical information that identifies you is kept private;
•Give you this notice of our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to medical information about you; and
•Follow the terms of the notice that is currently in effect.
III. HOW WE MAY USE AND DISCLOSE MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU
The following categories describe different ways that we use and disclose medical information. For each category of uses or disclosures we will explain what we mean and provide 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 these categories.
For Treatment. We may use medical information about you to provide you with medical treatment or services. We may disclose medical information about you to doctors, nurses, technicians, students, pastoral care representatives, or other hospital personnel who are involved in taking care of you at the hospital. For example, a doctor treating you for a broken hip 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 if you have diabetes so that we can arrange for appropriate meals.We also may disclose medical information about you to people outside the hospital who may be involved in your medical care after you leave the hospital, such as family members, clergy and pastoral care, nursing homes, home health agencies or others we use to provide services that are part of your care, such as therapists or physicians.
For Payment. We may use and disclose medical information about you so that the treatment and services you receive at the hospital may be billed to and payment may be collected from you, an insurance company, or a third party. For example, we may need to give your health plan information about treatment you received or will receive at the hospital so your health plan will pay us or reimburse you for the treatment.We may also disclose your medical information to another provider, such as a physician, for payment purposes.
For Healthcare Operations. We use and disclose medical information for our health care operations, which at St. Mary Medical Center includes internal administration and planning and various activities that improve the quality and cost effectiveness for the care that we deliver to you. For example, we may use medical information to review our treatment and services and to evaluate the performance of our staff in caring for you. We may also combine medical information about many hospital patients to decide what services the hospital should offer, and whether certain new treatments are effective. We may also disclose information to doctors, nurses, technicians, students, and other hospital personnel for review and learning purposes. We may also disclose medical information to other providers that have a relationship with you for purposes of quality improvement, peer review and other activities. We may also call you by name in a waiting room. We may use or disclose your information, as necessary, to contact you to remind you of an appointment. We will share your information with third party "business associates" that perform various activities (e.g. billing, transcription, software assistance) for the hospital. Whenever an arrangement between our office and a business associate involves use or disclosure of your medical information, we will have a written agreement that contains terms that will protect the privacy of your information.
Treatment Alternatives. We may use and disclose medical information to tell you about or recommend possible treatment options or alternatives that may be of interest to you.
Health-Related Benefits and Services. We may use and disclose medical information to tell you about health-related benefits or services that may be of interest to you.
Fundraising Activities. We may use information about you to contact you in an effort to raise money for the hospital and its operations. We may disclose information to a foundation related to the hospital so that the foundation may contact you in raising money for the hospital. We only would release contact information, such as your name, address and phone number, and the dates you received treatment or services at the hospital.
Hospital Directory. Unless you tell us otherwise, we may include certain limited information about you in the hospital directory while you are a patient at the hospital. This information may include your name, location in the hospital, your general condition (e.g., fair, serious, etc.), and your religious affiliation. The directory information, except for your religious affiliation, may also be released to people who ask for you by name. Your religious affiliation may be given to a member of the clergy, such as a priest or rabbi, even if they don't ask for you by name. This is so your family, friends, and clergy can visit you in the hospital and generally know how you are doing. If you do not want anyone to know this information about you, you must notify the hospital's Privacy Liaison in writing or indicate your preference on the Hospital's Patient Consent Form.
Individuals Involved in Your Care or Payment for Your Care. We may release medical information about you to a friend or family member who is involved in your medical care. This would include persons named in any durable health care power of attorney or similar document provided to us. We may also give information to someone who helps pay for your care. In addition, we may disclose medical 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. You can object to these releases by telling us that you do not wish any or all individuals involved in your care to receive this information. If you are not present or cannot agree or object, we will use our professional judgment to decide whether it is in your best interest to release relevant information to someone who is involved in your care or to another entity assisting in a disaster relief effort.
Research. Under certain circumstances, we may use and disclose medical 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 medical information, trying to balance the research needs with patients' need for privacy of their medical information. Before we use or disclose medical information for research, the project will have been approved through this research approval process. We may, however, disclose medical information about you to people preparing to conduct a research project, for example, to help them look for patients with specific medical needs, so long as the medical information they review does not leave the hospital. We will ask for your specific permission if the researcher will have access to your name, address, or other information that reveals who you are, or will be involved in your care at the hospital.
As Required By Law. We will disclose medical information about you when required to do so by federal, state, or local law.
To Avert a Serious Threat to Health or Safety. We may use and disclose medical information about you when necessary to prevent a serious threat to your health and safety or the health and safety of the public or another person. Any disclosure, however, would only be to someone able to help prevent the threat.
IV. SPECIAL SITUATIONS
Organ and Tissue Donation. We may release medical information to organizations that handle organ procurement or organ, eye, or tissue transplantation, or to an organ donation bank as necessary to facilitate organ or tissue donation and transplantation.
Military and Veterans. If you are a member of the armed forces, we may release medical information about you as required by military command authorities. We may also release medical information about foreign military personnel to the appropriate foreign military authority. We may use and disclose to components of the Department of Veterans Affairs medical information about you to determine whether you are eligible for certain benefits.
Workers' Compensation. We may release medical information about you for Workers' Compensation or similar programs. These programs provide benefits for work-related injuries or illness.
Public Health Activities. We may disclose medical information about you for public health activities. These activities generally include the following: to prevent or control disease, injury, or disability; to report deaths; to report to cancer registries or other similar registries; to report reactions to medications or problems with products; to notify people of recalls of products they may be using; to notify a person who may have been exposed to a disease or may be at risk for contracting or spreading a disease or condition; and to notify the appropriate government authority if we believe a patient has been the victim of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence. We will only make this disclosure if you agree or when required or authorized by law.
Health Oversight Activities. We may disclose medical information to a health oversight agency for activities authorized by law, for example, audits, investigations, inspections, licensure, proceedings, actions, or other activities necessary for the government to monitor the healthcare system, government programs, and compliance with civil rights laws.
Lawsuits and Disputes. If you are involved in a lawsuit or a dispute, we may disclose medical information about you in response to a valid court or administrative order. We may also disclose medical 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 medical information to the police or other law enforcement officials as required by law or in compliance with a court order.
Coroners, Medical Examiners, and Funeral Directors. We may release medical information to a coroner, or medical examiner for example, to identify a deceased person or determine the cause of death. We may also release medical information about deceased patients of the hospital to funeral directors, consistent with applicable law and as necessary to carry out their duties.
Aversion of a Serious Threat to Health or Safety. We may, consistent with applicable law and standards of ethical conduct, use or disclose protected health information, if we, in good faith, believe the use or disclosure is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious or imminent threat to the health or safety of anyone, or is necessary for law enforcement authorities to identify or apprehend an individual who was involved in a violent crime or who has escaped from a correctional institution or from lawful custody.
Specialized Government Functions. We may disclose medical information to units of the government with special functions, such as U.S. military or the U. S. Department of State for intelligence, counterintelligence and other national security activities, as authorized by law.
Inmates. If you are an inmate of a correctional institution or under the custody of a law enforcement official, we may release medical information about you to the correctional institution or law enforcement official.
V. YOUR RIGHTS REGARDING MEDICAL
INFORMATION ABOUT YOU
You have the following rights regarding medical information we maintain about you:
Right to Inspect and Copy. You have the right to inspect and copy medical information that may be used to make decisions about your care. Usually, this includes medical and billing records, but does not include psychotherapy notes and other mental health records under certain circumstances to inspect and copy medical information that may be used to make decisions about you, you must submit your request in writing to the Hospital's Medical Record Department. If you request a copy of the information, there is a charge. We may deny your request to inspect and copy medical information in certain very limited circumstances such as when your physician determines that for medical reasons this is not advisable. If you are denied access to medical information, you may request that the denial be reviewed.
Right to Amend. If you feel that medical 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 or for the hospital.
To request an amendment, your request must be made in writing and submitted to the Hospital's Medical Record Department. We will comply with your request unless we believe that the information to be amended is accurate and complete or other special circumstances apply.
Right to an Accounting of Disclosures. You have the right to request an "accounting of disclosures." This is a list of the disclosures we made of medical information about you.
To request this list or accounting of disclosures, you must submit your request in writing to the Hospital's Medical Record Department. Your request must state a time period that may not be longer than six years and may not include dates before April 14, 2003. Your request should indicate in what form you want the list (for example: on paper, electronically). 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.
Right to Request Restrictions. You have the right to request a restriction or limitation on the medical information we use or disclose about you for treatment, payment, or healthcare operations. You also have the right to request a limit on the medical 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.
We are not required to agree to your request. If we do agree, we will comply with your request unless the information is needed to provide you emergency treatment.
To request restrictions, you must make your request in writing to the Hospital's Privacy Officer. In your request, you must tell us (1) what information you want to limit; (2) whether you want to limit our use, disclosure, or both; and (3) to whom you want the limits to apply, for example, disclosures to your spouse.
Right to Confidential Communications. You may request and we will accommodate, any reasonable written request for you to receive medical information by alternative means of communication or at alternative locations. Contact the Privacy Officer if you require such confidential information.
Right to a Paper Copy of This Notice. You have the right to a paper copy of this notice.
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 medical 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 the hospital and on our web site at www.stmaryhealthcare.org.
If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you may file a complaint with the hospital or with the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. To file a complaint with the hospital, contact the Privacy Officer.
You may also report a complaint on the Catholic Health East / St Mary Medical Center telephone hotline at 800-254-0458.
You will not be retaliated against for filing a complaint.
OTHER USES OF MEDICAL INFORMATION
Other uses and disclosures of medical 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 medical 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 medical 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.