Notice of Privacy Practices

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Notice of Privacy Practices

SOME OF OUR PRIVACY OBLIGATIONS AND HOW WE FULFILL THEM

Federal health information privacy rules require us to give you notice of our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to PHI (Protected Health Information) and to notify you following a breach of unsecured PHI. This document is our notice. We will abide by the privacy practices set forth in this Notice. We are required to abide by the terms of the Notice currently in effect. However, we reserve the right to change this Notice and our privacy practices when permitted or as required by law. If we change our Notice of Privacy Practices, we will provide you with a copy to take with you upon request and we will post the new notice.

Compliance with Certain State Laws
When we use or disclose your PHI as described in this Notice, or when you exercise rights set forth in this Notice, we may apply state laws about the confidentiality of health information in place of federal privacy regulations. We do this when these state laws provide you with greater rights or protection for your PHI. For example, some state laws dealing with mental health records may require your express consent before your PHI could be disclosed in response to a subpoena. Another state law prohibits us from disclosing a copy of your record to you until you have been discharged from our hospital. When state laws are not in conflict or if these laws do not offer you better rights or more protection, we will continue to protect your privacy by applying the federal regulations.

This notice describes how information about you may be used and disclosed and how you can get access to this information.

PLEASE REVIEW IT CAREFULLY

UNDERSTANDING YOUR PROTECTED HEALTH INFORMATION (PHI)
Deaf Smith County Hospital District (DSCHD), including its hospital, clinic, home health agency and its medical staff are a clinically integrated healthcare setting. Each entity within this arrangement will be able to access and use your PHI to carry out treatment, payment, or healthcare operations.

Deaf Smith County Hospital District is required by Texas and Federal Law to maintain the protected health information, to provide individuals with DSCHD’s Notice of Privacy Practices, and to notify the individuals involved if the individual’s unsecured protected health information is used and/or disclosed in a manner not permitted by Texas or Federal Law.

HOW WE MAY USE AND RELEASE YOUR PROTECTED HEALTH INFORMATION (PHI)

The following uses do NOT require your authorization, except where required by Texas Law.

  • For treatment:  Your PHI may be discussed by caregivers to determine our plan of care. The physicians, nurses, medical students, and other healthcare personnel, may share PHI in order to coordinate the services you may need.
  • To obtain payment:We may use and disclose PHI to obtain payment for our services from you, an insurance company, or a third party.
    • For healthcare operations:We may use and disclose PHI for hospital operations. For example we may use the information to review our treatment and services and to evaluate the performance of our staff in caring for you.
    • For public health activities:We report to public health authorities as required by law, information regarding births, deaths, various diseases, reactions to medications and medical products.
    • Victims of abuse, neglect, domestic violence:Your PHI may be released as required by law to the appropriate Texas agencies when cases of abuse and neglect are suspected.
    • Health oversight activities: We will release information for federal or state audits, civil, administrative or criminal investigations, inspections, licensure or disciplinary actions, as required by law.
    • Judicial and administrative proceedings: Your PHI may be released in response to a subpoena or court order.
    • Law enforcement: We may release your PHI as required by law for certain types of wounds.
    • Active Duty and Retired Military:We may release your PHI to the Department of Defense or other governmental agency.
    • National security purposes: We may release your PHI for national security and intelligence investigations.
    • Uses and disclosures about patients who have died:We provide coroners, medical examiners, and funeral directors necessary information relating to an individual’s death.
    • For purposes of organ donation: As permitted by law, we will notify organ procurement organizations to assist them in organ, eye, or tissue donation and transplants.
    • Research: We may use your PHI if the Institutional Review Board (IRB) reviews for research, approves and establishes safeguards to ensure privacy.
    • To avoid harm: In order to avoid a serious threat to the health or safety of a person or the public, we may release limited information to law enforcement personnel or persons able to prevent or lessen such harm.
    • For worker’s compensation purposes: We may release your PHI to comply with worker’s compensation laws.
    • Health Communication: We may send you information on the latest treatment, support groups, and other resources affecting your health.
    • Fundraising activities: We may use your PHI to communicate with you to raise funds to support healthcare services and educational programs we provide to the community.
    • Appointment reminders and health-related benefits and services: We may contact you with a reminder that you have an appointment for check-up or treatment.
    • You may object to the following uses of PHI:
      • Hospital directories: Unless you object, we may include your name, location, general condition, and religious affiliation in our patient directory for use by clergy and visitors who ask for you by name.
      • Information shared with family, friends, or others: Unless you object, we may release your PHI to a family member, friend, or other person that you indicate is involved in your care or the payment for your healthcare.
      • Your prior written authorization is required to release your PHI in the following situations:
        • Any uses or disclosures beyond treatment, payment, or healthcare operations and not specified above.
        • Psychotherapy notes, marketing, and the sale of PHI.
        • Your prior written consent is required in the following situation:
          • Deaf Smith County Hospital District participates in certain Health Information Exchanges that make your prescription information available to other healthcare providers who may need access to it in order to provide care or treatment to you.  DSCHD may electronically access and disclose prescription information to these exchanges.

WHAT RIGHTS YOU HAVE REGARDING YOUR PHI?
Although your health record is the physical property of Deaf Smith County Hospital District, the information belongs to you, and you have the following rights with respect to your PHI:

  • The right to request limits on how we use and release your PHI: You have the right to ask that we limit how we use and release your PHI. We will consider your request but we are not legally required to accept it. If we accept your request, we will put any limits in writing and abide by them except in emergency situations. Your request must be in writing and state (1) what information you want to limit; (2) whether you want to limit our use, disclosure or both; (3) to whom you want the limits to apply, for example, disclosures to your spouse; and (4) an expiration date. If you pay for a service or health care item out-of-pocket in full, you can ask us not to share that information for the purpose of payment or our operations with your health insurer. We will say “yes” unless a law requires us to share that information.
  • The right to choose how we communicate PHI to you:You have the right to request that we communicate with you about PHI in a certain way or at a certain location (for example, sending information to your work address rather than a home address). You must make your request in writing and specify how and where you wish to be contacted.
  • The right to see and get copies of your PHI:You have the right to inspect and receive a copy of your PHI, which is contained in a designated record set that may be used to make decisions about our care. You must submit your request in writing. If you request a copy of the information, we may charge a fee for copying, mailing, or other costs associated with your request. We may deny your request to inspect and receive a copy in certain very limited circumstances. If you are denied access to PHI, you may request that the denial be reviewed.
  • The right to get a list of instances of when and to whom we have disclosed your PHI:This list may not include uses such as those made for treatment, payment, or healthcare operations, directly to you, to your family, or in our facility directory as described above in this NPP. This list also may not include uses for which a signed authorization has been received or disclosures made before April 14, 2003.
  • The right to amend your PHI:If you believe that there is a mistake in your PHI or that a piece of important information is missing, you have the right to request that we amend the existing information or add the missing information. You must provide the request and your reason for the request in writing. We may deny your request in writing if the PHI is correct and complete or another facility’s report.
  • The right to receive a paper or electronic copy of this notice: You have the right to a paper copy of this notice. You may ask us to give you a copy of this Notice at any time. For the above requests please contact:
    Meri Killingsworth, RN, COO
    Compliance/Privacy Officer
    540 West 15th Street, Hereford, Texas 79045
    Phone Number: 806-364-2141
  • The right to revoke an authorization: If you chose to sign an authorization to release your PHI, you can later revoke that authorization in writing. This will stop any future release of your health information except as allowed or required by law.

HOW TO COMPLAIN ABOUT OUR PRIVACY PRACTICES
If you think your privacy rights may have been violated, or you disagree with a decision we made about access to your PHI, you may file a complaint with the office listed in the next section of this Notice. Please be assured that you will not be penalized and there will be no retaliation for voicing a concern or filing a complaint. We are committed to the delivery of quality healthcare in an environment that is confidential and private.

PERSON TO CONTACT FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THIS NOTICE OR COMPLAIN ABOUT OUR PRIVACY PRACTICES
If you have any questions about this Notice or any complaints about our privacy practices please call  (806) 349-9120.
In writing:

Meri Killingsworth

Compliance/Privacy Officer
540 West 15th Street
Hereford, Texas 79045

You may also send a written complaint to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. The address will be provided at your request.

CHANGES TO THIS NOTICE
We reserve the right to change the terms of this Notice at any time. We also reserve the right to make the revised or changed Notice effective for PHI we already have about you as well as any information we receive in the future. The Notice will always contain the effective date. You may also view the Notice at any time on the web at: http://dschd.org.

EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS NOTICE
This Notice went into effect on September 23, 2013.

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