1. Treatment, Payment And Agency Business Operations
The agency and its staff may use your health information or share it with others in order to treat your condition, obtain payment for that treatment, and run the agency’s normal business operations. Your health information may also be shared with affiliated agencies so that they may jointly perform certain payment activities and business operations. Your health information also may be disclosed to another health care provider for its treatment and payment activities, and for certain limited business operations by it. Below are further examples of how your information may be used and disclosed by our agency.
Treatment. We may share your health information with doctors, nurses, therapists, aides and other health care professionals at the agency who are involved in providing services to you, and they may, in turn, use that information to diagnose or treat you, or to develop a plan of services for, you. A health care professional at our agency may share your health information with another health care professional inside our agency, or with a health care professional at another agency, to determine how to diagnose or treat you. Your health care professional may also share your health information with another agency or provider to whom you have been referred for further health care. Finally, we may share your health information with others outside the agency as necessary to carry out your treatment plan; for example, we may disclose certain information about you to a prospective employer in connection with a job placement or training program, or share information about you with other community resources to provide you with the fullest range of resources and services.
Payment We may use your health information or share it with others so that we obtain payment for your health care services. For example, we may share information about you with your health insurance company or other payers in order to obtain reimbursement after we have provided services to you. In some cases, we may share information about you with your health insurance company to determine whether it will cover your services. We might also need to inform your health insurance company about your health condition in order to obtain pre-approval for your services, such as care provided at a resident or day program facility. Finally, we may share your health information with other providers and payers for their payment activities.
Business Operations. We may use your health information or share it with others in order to conduct our normal business operations. For example, we may use your health information to evaluate the performance of our staff in caring for you, or to educate our staff on how to improve the care they provide for you, or with our liability insurance carrier in certain situations. We may also share your health information with another company that performs business services for us, such as billing companies. If so, we will have a written contract to ensure that this company also protects the privacy of your health information. Finally, we may share your health information with other providers and payers for certain of their business operations if that other party also has or had a treatment or payment relationship with you, and in that event, we will only share information that pertains to that relationship.
Appointment Reminders, Treatment Alternatives, Benefits, and Services. We may use your health information when we contact you with a reminder that you have an appointment for treatment or services. We may also use your health information in order to recommend possible treatment alternatives or health-related benefits and services that may be of interest to you.
Fundraising. We may use demographic information about you, including information about your age and gender, and where you live or work, and the dates that you received treatment, in order to contact you to raise money to help us operate. We may also share this information with a charitable foundation that may contact you to raise money on our behalf. However, we must offer you the opportunity to opt out of future fundraising communications.
2. Friends And Family
We may share your health information with friends and family involved in your care, without your written authorization or other written permission. We will always give you an opportunity to object unless there is insufficient time because of a medical emergency (in which case we will discuss your preferences with you as soon as the emergency is over). We will follow your wishes unless we are required by law to do otherwise.
Friends and Family Involved In Your Care. If you do not object, we may share your health information with a family member, relative or close personal friend who is involved in your care or payment for that care. We may also notify a family member, personal representative, or another person responsible for your care about your location and general condition, or about the unfortunate event of your death. In some cases, we may need to share your information with a disaster relief organization that will help us notify these persons.
Incidental Disclosures. While we will take reasonable steps to safeguard the privacy of your health information, certain disclosures of your health information may occur during, or as an unavoidable result of, our otherwise permissible uses or disclosures of your health information. For example, during the course of a treatment session, other individuals receiving services in the treatment area may see, or overhear discussion of, your health information.
3. Public Need
We may use your health information, and share it with others, in order to meet important public needs. We will not be required to obtain your written authorization, consent or any other type of permission before using or disclosing your information for these reasons.
As Required By Law. We may use or disclose your health information if we are required by law to do so. We also will notify you of these uses and disclosures if notice is required by law.
Public Health Activities. We may disclose your health information to authorized public health officials (or a foreign government agency collaborating with such officials) so they may carry out their public health activities. For example, we may share your health information with government officials that are responsible for controlling disease, injury or disability. We may also disclose your health information to a person who may have been exposed to a communicable disease, or be at risk for contracting or spreading the disease if a law permits us to do so.
Victims of Abuse, Neglect Or Domestic Violence. We may release your health information to a public health authority that is authorized to receive reports of abuse, neglect or domestic violence. For example, we may report your information to government officials if we reasonably believe that you have been a victim of abuse, neglect or domestic violence. We will make every effort to obtain your permission before releasing this information, but in some cases, we may be required or authorized to act without your permission.
Health Oversight Activities. We may release your health information to government agencies authorized to conduct audits, investigations, and inspections of our facility. These government agencies monitor the operation of the health care system, government benefit programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, and compliance with government regulatory programs and civil rights laws.
Product Monitoring, Repair, and Recall. We may disclose your health information to a person or company that is required by the Food and Drug Administration to (1) report or track product defects or problems; (2) repair, replace, or recall defective or dangerous products; or (3) monitor the performance of a product after it has been approved for use by the general public.
Lawsuits And Disputes. We may disclose your health information if we are ordered to do so by a court or administrative tribunal that is handling a lawsuit or other dispute.
Law Enforcement. We may disclose your health information to law enforcement officials for the following reasons:
- To comply with court orders, laws, or regulations that we are required to follow;
- To assist law enforcement officers with identifying or locating a suspect, fugitive, witness, or missing person;
- If you have been the victim of a crime and we determine that: (1) we have been unable to obtain your consent because of an emergency or your incapacity; (2) law enforcement officials need this information immediately to carry out their law enforcement duties; and (3) in our professional judgment disclosure to these officers is in your best interests;
- If we suspect that your death resulted from criminal conduct;
- If necessary to report a crime that occurred on our property; or
- If necessary to report a crime discovered during an offsite medical emergency (for example, by emergency medical technicians at the scene of a crime).
To Avert A Serious Threat To Health Or Safety. We may use your health information or share it with others when necessary to prevent a serious threat to your health or safety or the health or safety of another person or the public. In such cases, we will only share your information with someone able to help prevent the threat. We may also disclose your health information to law enforcement officers if you tell us that you participated in a violent crime that may have caused serious physical harm to another person (unless you admitted that fact while in counseling), or if we determine that you escaped from lawful custody (such as a prison or mental health institution).
National Security And Intelligence Activities Or Protective Services. We may disclose your health information to authorized federal officials who are conducting national security and intelligence activities or providing protective services to the President or other important officials.
Inmates And Correctional Institutions. If you are an inmate or you are detained by a law enforcement officer, we may disclose your health information to the prison officers or law enforcement officers if necessary to provide you with health care, or to maintain safety, security and good order at the place where you are confined. This includes sharing information that is necessary to protect the health and safety of other inmates or persons involved in supervising or transporting inmates.
Workers’ Compensation. We may disclose your health information for workers’ compensation or similar programs that provide benefits for work-related injuries.
Coroners, Medical Examiners and Funeral Directors. In the unfortunate event of your death, we may disclose your health information to a coroner or medical examiner. This may be necessary, for example, to determine the cause of death. We may also release this information to funeral directors as necessary to carry out their duties.
Organ And Tissue Donation. In the unfortunate event of your death, we may disclose your health information to organizations that procure or store organs, eyes or other tissues so that these organizations may investigate whether donation or transplantation is possible under applicable laws.
Research. In most cases, we will ask for your written authorization before using your health information or sharing it with others in order to conduct research. However, under some circumstances, we may use and disclose your health information without your authorization if we obtain approval through a special process to ensure that research without your authorization poses minimal risk to your privacy. Under no circumstances, however, would we allow researchers to use your name or identity publicly. We may also release your health information without your authorization to people who are preparing a future research project, so long as any information identifying you does not leave our agency. In the unfortunate event of your death, we may share your health information with people who are conducting research using the information of deceased persons, as long as they agree not to remove from our agency any information that identifies you.
Marketing or Sale of Protected Health Information. We may not sell your protected health information. We are restricted from subsidized marketing communications to you that encourage you to make purchases unless we have your prior permission to do so.