Effective Date: April 14, 2003
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 Elkhart General Privacy Officer at 574-523-3299 or the Medical Records Department of Elkhart General Hospital at 574-294-2621 ext. 3940.
WHO WILL FOLLOW THIS JOINT NOTICE OF PRIVACY PRACTICES
This notice describes our Elkhart General Healthcare System’s practices and that of:
•Any health care professional authorized to enter information into your medical record(s).
•All departments and units of Elkhart General Healthcare System and Elkhart General Hospital.
•Any member of a volunteer group, students, or others we allow to help you while you are a patient in the hospital or at any Elkhart General Healthcare System entity.
•All employees, physicians, staff, and other health system personnel.
•Our organized healthcare arrangement may include our lab, emergency room physicians, radiology physicians, anesthesiology groups, medical directors, all physicians who provide services at Elkhart General Hospital, Center for Behavioral Medicine (inpatient services), Center for Behavioral Medicine Outpatient Services, Elkhart General Home Care, Elkhart General Home Infusion Therapy, Elkhart General Home Medical Equipment, Elkhart General Outpatient Pharmacy, Elkhart General Rehabilitation Services, Elkhart General Hospital Foundation, Elkhart General Hospital Auxillary, Bristol Family Practice, Center for Family Practice, Family Medicine Center, Family Practice Associates, Nappanee Family Medical Clinic, Osceola Clinic, Wakarusa Medical Clinic, Elkhart Gastroenterology, Edwardsburg Family Medicine, For Women Only and Bittersweet Medical Associates and any locations acquired by Elkhart General Healthcare System in future transactions, follow the terms of this notice. In addition, these entities, sites and locations may share medical information with each other for treatment, payment, or hospital operations purposes described in this notice.
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 all Elkhart General Healthcare System entities. 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 health system, whether made by health system 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.
Elkhart General Healthcare System may not require individuals to waive their rights under HIPAA Privacy Regulations as a condition of treatment, payment, enrollment in a health plan, or eligibility of benefits.
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 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. We may also use and disclose your individually identifiable health information via fax and software when appropriate for these purposes.
- 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 health system personnel who are involved in taking care of you at Elkhart General Hospital or any of the Elkhart General Healthcare System entities. 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 and health system 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 health system who may be involved in your medical care after you leave the hospital or a health system entity, such as assisted living facilities, family members, 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 or a health system entity 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 a 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 Health Care Operations. We may use and disclose medical information about you for hospital and health system operations. These uses and disclosures are necessary to run the hospital and health system, to 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 and health system patients to decide what additional services the hospital or health system 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 and health system personnel for review and learning purposes. We may also combine the medical information we have with medical information from other hospitals and health systems 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 or a health system entityy.
- 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.
- Hospital Directory. We may include certain limited information about you in the hospital directory while you are a patient at Elkhart General Hospital. This information may include your name, location in the hospital, your general condition (e.g., fair, stable, etc.) and your room’s phone extension. The directory information may also be released to people who ask for you by name. Your church 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.
- Minors. Parents and/or legal guardians have a right to protected health information regarding their minor children except when prohibited by law.
- Organ and Tissue Donation. If you are an organ donor, 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.
- 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 Risks. 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 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 or authorized by law
- 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 and 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.
- Law Enforcement. We may release medical information if asked to do so by a law enforcement official:
- 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 if, under certain limited circumstances, we are unable to obtain the person's agreement;
- 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.
- Coroners, Medical Examiners and 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 and Intelligence Activities. We may release medical information about you to authorized federal officials for intelligence, counterintelligence, and other national security activities authorized by law.
- Protective Services for the President and Others. We may disclose medical information about you to authorized federal officials so they may provide protection to the President, other authorized 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 official. This release would be necessary (1) for the institution to provide you with health care; (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.
- Fundraising Activities. We may use your health information to contact you in an effort to raise money for Elkhart General Healthcare System and its operations. We may disclose health information to a Elkhart General Hospital Foundation related to Elkhart General Healthcare System so that the foundation may contact you to raise money for Elkhart General Healthcare System. In these cases, we would release only contact information, such as your name, address, and phone number. If you do not want us to contact you for fundraising efforts, you must notify us of this restriction in writing.
All other uses and disclosures of protected health information will be made only with the written authorization by the patient
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. Psychotherapy notes and mental health records may be entitled to additional protection as required by law.
To inspect and copy medical information that may be used to make decisions about you, you must submit your request in writing to the Elkhart General Healthcare System provider from which you wish to receive your medical records. 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.
To request an amendment, your request must be made in writing and submitted to the Elkhart General Healthcare System provider from which you wish to amend your medical records. 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 or an Elkhart General Healthcare System entity;
- Is not part of the information which you would be permitted to inspect and copy; or
- Is accurate and complete.
To request this list or accounting of disclosures, you must submit your request in writing to the Elkhart General Healthcare System provider from which you wish to receive the accounting of disclosures of your medical record. Your request must state a time period which may not be longer than six years and may not include dates before April 14, 2003. Your request should indicate from which Elkhart General Healthcare System entity your request is being made. 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 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 for your care, like a family member or friend. For example, you could ask that we 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 the Elkhart General Healthcare System provider from which you wish to restrict your medical records. In your request, you must tell us (1) what information you want to limit and at which Elkhart General Healthcare System entity this restriction applies; (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.
To request confidential communications, you must make your request in writing to the Elkhart General Healthcare System provider from which you wish to request confidential communications and you must indicate if this is all communications and to which Elkhart General Healthcare System entity or entities this request applies. 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 paper copy of this notice in any Elkhart General Hospital Registration Area, including the EGH Admitting Department, the admitting area of the EGH Emergency Department, and in the Elkhart General Healthcare System Administration Department.
This notice will also be available at all Elkhart General Healthcare System facilities, including Elkhart General Hospital, Center for Behavioral Medicine (ipatient services), Center for Behavioral Medicine (outpatient Services), Elkhart General Women’s Health Center, Elkhart General Home Care, Elkhart General Home Infusion Therapy, Elkhart General Home Medical Equipment, Elkhart General Outpatient Pharmacy, Elkhart General Rehabilitation Services, Bristol Family Practice, Center for Family Practice, Family Medicine Center, Family Practice Associates, Nappanee Family Medical Clinic, Osecola Clinic, Wakarusa Medical Clinic, Elkhart Gastroenterology, Edwardsburg Family Medicine, For Women Only and Bittersweet Medical Associates. Copies of the Notice of Privacy Practices will also be available at any future entities obtained by Elkhart General Healthcare System.
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 other Elkhart General Healthcare System entities. The notice will contain on the first page, in the top right-hand corner, the effective date. In addition, after a change to the Notice of Privacy Practice, you will be offered a copy of the current notice in effect during the registration process.
If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you may file a complaint with the Patient Representative for Elkhart General Hospital or with the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. To file a complaint with Elkhart General Hospital or any of the Elkhart General Healthcare System affiliated entities, please contact the Patient Representative for Elkhart General Hospital at (574) 296-6472. 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 of the care that we provided to you.