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Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy

February 25th, 2013

HOULTON REGIONAL HOSPITAL

 

PRIVACY STATEMENT

Effective Date:  February 25, 2013

 

 

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 the Health Information Management Department at (207) 532-2900 ext. 2247.

 

Who Will Follow This Notice?

This notice describes our hospital’s practices and that of:

  • Any health care professional authorized to enter information into your hospital chart
  • 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, and other hospital personnel.

 

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.

 

How We May Use & 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 try to give 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 the 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, medical students, or other hospital personnel who are involved in taking care of you at the hospital.  For example, a doctor treating you for a broken leg 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.  Different departments of the hospital also may share medical information about you in order to coordinate the different things you need, such as prescriptions, lab work, and x-rays.  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, or others we use to provide services that are part of your care.
  • 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 surgery you received at the hospital so your health plan will pay us or reimburse you for the surgery.  We may also tell your health plan about a treatment you are going to receive to obtain prior approval or to determine whether your plan will cover the treatment.
  • For Hospital Care Operations.  We may use and disclose medical information about you for hospital operations.  These uses and disclosures are necessary to run the hospital and make sure that all of our patients receive quality care.  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 additional services the hospital should offer, what services are not needed, and whether certain new treatments are effective.  We may also disclose information to doctors, nurses, technicians, medical students, and other hospital personnel for review and learning purposes.  We may also combine the medical information we have with medical information from other hospitals to compare how we are doing and see where we can make improvements in the care and services we offer.  We may remove information that identifies you from this set of medical information so others may use it to study health care and health care delivery without learning who the specific patients are.
  • Appointment Reminders.  We may use and disclose medical information to contact you as a reminder that you have an appointment for treatment or medical care at the hospital.
  • 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 & Services.  We may use and disclose medical information to tell you about health-related benefits or services that may be of interest to you.
  • Hospital Directory.  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 conditions (e.g., fair, stable, 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.
  • 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.  We may also give information to someone who helps pay for your care.  We may also tell your family or friends your condition and that you are in the hospital.  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.
  • 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, but 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 almost always 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.

 

Special Situations:

  • Organ & 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 & 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.
  • 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 Risk.  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 births and deaths
  • To report child abuse or neglect
  • 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
  • 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 to by law.
  • Law Enforcement.   We may release medical information to law enforcement:
    • In response to a court order, subpoena, warrant, summons, or similar process
    • To identify or locate a suspect, fugitive, material witness, or missing person
    • About the victim of a crime.  The only exception shall be for those victims of sexual assault/abuse which requires the patient/personal representative’s signed consent for release of information
    • About a death we believe may be the result of criminal conduct
    • About criminal conduct at the hospital, and
    • In emergency circumstances to report a crime; the location of the crime or victims, or the identity, description, or location of the person who committed the crime.
  • Health Oversight Activities.  We may disclose medical information to a health oversight agency for activities authorized by law.  These oversight activities include, for example, audits, investigations, inspections, and licensure.  These activities are necessary for the government to monitor the health care system, government programs, and compliance with civil rights laws.
  • Lawsuits & Disputes.  If you are involved in a lawsuit or a dispute, we may disclose medical information about you in response to a 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.
  • Coroners, Medical Examiners & Funeral Directors.  We may release medical information to a coroner or medical examiner.  This may be necessary, for example, to identify a deceased person or determine the cause of death.  We may also release medical information about patients of the hospital to funeral directors, as necessary, to carry out their duties.
  • National Security & Intelligence Activities.  We may release medical information about you to authorized federal officials for intelligence, counter-intelligence, and other national security activities authorized by law.
  • Protective Services for the President & Others.  We may disclose medical information about you to authorized federal officials so they may provide protection to the President, other organized persons or foreign heads of state or conduct special investigations.
  • 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 officials.  This release would be necessary:
  1. For the institution to provide you with healthcare;
  2. To protect your health and safety or the health and safety of others; or
  3. For the safety and security of the correctional institution.

 

Maine HealthInfoNet (HIN)

 

We participate in a statewide arrangement of health care organizations, which have agreed to work with each other to make available electronic health information that may be relevant to your care.  For example, if you are admitted to another hospital on an emergency basis and cannot provide information about your health condition, this statewide arrangement will help those who need to treat you at the hospital to see your health information held by Houlton Regional Hospital.  When it is needed, ready access to your health information means better care for you.  You may choose to not make your protected health information available to this statewide arrangement by completing the paperwork provided to you during the registration process and sending it to Health Info Network (HIN) at the designated address.

 

You do not need to do anything to participate.  Your health care provider will send the overview of your health information to HIN.  If you choose not to participate, you need to fill out a form that lets HIN know that you do not want to participate.  If you choose not to participate, HIN will delete all health information about you that it has in its system at that time.  If you chose not to participate, HIN will continue to maintain basic demographic information about you so that it can honor your choice not to participate.  You can change your mind about participating in HIN’s system at any time by filling out a form that your health care provider has, calling HIN toll free (1-866-592-4352) or by going to the website www.hinfonet.org and making your wishes known.

 

The risks of participating in the HIN include the possibility that an unauthorized person might access HIN’s record.  It is also possible that inaccurate information might be included accidentally in HIN’s record, which could lead to mistakes about diagnoses and medication.  Another risk is the potential reference to a medical condition you consider sensitive (such as references to sexually transmitted diseases, mental health issues, pregnancy, HIV status, chronic conditions, alcohol or drug conditions, or another condition you consider sensitive).

 

Your Rights Regarding Medical Information About You:

You have the following rights regarding medical information we maintain about you.

  • Right to Inspect & 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.

 

To inspect and copy medical information that may be used to make decisions about you, you must submit your request in writing to:

Director, Health Information Management Department

c/o Houlton Regional Hospital

20 Hartford Street

Houlton, ME  04730

(207) 532-7057 (fax)

If you request a copy of the information, we may charge a fee for the costs of copying, mailing, or other supplies associated with your request.

 

We may deny your request to inspect and copy in certain, very limited, circumstances.  If you are denied access to medical information, you may request that the denial be reviewed.  Another licensed health care professional chosen by the hospital will review your request and the denial.  The person conducting the review will not be the person who denied your request.  We will comply with the outcome of the review.

  • 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:

Director, Health Information Management Department

c/o Houlton Regional Hospital

20 Hartford Street

Houlton, ME  04730

In addition, you must provide a reason that supports your request.

 

We may deny your request for an amendment if it is not in writing or does not include a reason to support the request.  In addition, we may deny your request if you ask us to amend information that:

  • Was not created by us, unless the person or entity that created the information is no longer available to make the amendment
  • Is not part of the medical information kept by or for the hospital
  • Is not part of the information which you would be permitted to inspect and copy, or
  • Is accurate and complete.

 

  • Right to An Accounting or Disclosures.  You have the right to request an “accounting or disclosures”.  This is a list of the disclosures we made of medical information about you.

 

To request this list of accounting or disclosures, you must submit your request in writing to:

Director, Health Information Management Department

c/o Houlton Regional Hospital

20 Hartford Street

Houlton, ME  04730

Your request must state a time period, which may not be longer than six (6) 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).  This 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 health care 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 of your care, like a family member or friend.  For example, you could ask that we do not use or disclose information about a surgery you had.

 

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:

Director, Health Information Management Department

c/o Houlton Regional Hospital

20 Hartford Street

Houlton, ME  04730

            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 Request Confidential Communications.  You have the right to request that we communicate with you about medical matters in a certain way or at a certain location.  For example, you can ask that we only contact you at work or by mail.

 

To request confidential communications, you must make your request in writing to:

Director, Health Information Management Department

c/o Houlton Regional Hospital

20 Hartford Street

Houlton, ME  04730

We will not ask you the reason for your request.  We will accommodate all reasonable requests.  Your request must specify how or where you wish to be contacted.

 

 

  • Right to a Paper 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.  Even if you have agreed to receive this notice electronically, you are still entitled to a paper copy of this notice.  You may obtain a copy of this notice at our website, www.houlton.net\hrh.   To obtain a paper copy of this notice, contact:

 Health Information Management Department

c/o Houlton Regional Hospital

20 Hartford Street

Houlton, ME  04730

 

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.  The notice will contain, at the top of the first page, the effective date.  In addition, each time you register at or are admitted to the hospital for treatment or health care services as an inpatient or outpatient, we will offer you a copy of the current notice in effect.

 

Complaints:

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 Administration Office at 532-2900 ext 2152.

 

YOU WILL NOT BE PENALIZED 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 for the care that we provided to you.