Notice of Privacy Practices
Effective Date: April 14, 2003
Updated March 24, 2014
Updated February 1, 2016
THIS NOTICE DESCRIBES HOW HEALTH 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 Kitchi Joyce, Privacy Officer at (770) 953-6929.
WHO WILL FOLLOW THIS NOTICE?
OUR PLEDGE REGARDING HEALTH INFORMATION:
We understand that health information about you and your health care is personal. We are committed to protecting health information about you. We create a record of the care and services you receive from us. 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 this health care practice, whether made by your personal doctor or others working in this office. This notice will tell you about the ways in which we may use and disclose health information about you. We also describe your rights to the health information we keep about you, and describe certain obligations we have regarding the use and disclosure of your health information. We are required by law to:
- Make sure that health information that identifies you is kept private;
- Give you this notice of our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to health information about you; and
- Follow the terms of the notice that is currently in effect.
HOW WE MAY USE AND DISCLOSE HEALTH INFORMATION ABOUT YOU
The following categories describe different ways that we use and disclose health 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, Payment and Health Care Options
We may use health information about you to provide you with health care treatment or services. We may disclose health information about you to doctors, nurses, technicians, health students, or other personnel who are involved in taking care of you. They may work at our offices, at the hospital if you are hospitalized under our supervision, or at another doctor’s office, lab, pharmacy, or other health care provider to whom we may refer you for consultation, to take x-rays, to perform lab tests, to have prescriptions filled, or for other treatment purposes. 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 at the hospital if you have diabetes so that we can arrange for appropriate meals. We may also disclose health 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.
We may use and disclose health information about you so that the treatment and services you receive from us may be billed to and payment collected from you, an insurance company, or a third party. For example, we may need to give your health plan information about your office visit so your health plan will pay us or reimburse you for the visit. 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 health information about you for operations of our health care practice. These uses and disclosures are necessary to run our practice and make sure that all of our patients receive quality care. For example, we may use health information to review our treatment and services and to evaluate the performance of our staff in caring for you. We may also combine health information about many patients to decide what additional services we should offer, what services are not needed, whether certain new treatments are effective, or to compare how we are doing with others and to see where we can make improvements. We may remove information that identifies you from this set of health information so others may use it to study health care delivery without learning who our specific patients are.
Other Uses and Disclosures Allowed Without Authorization
Individuals Involved in Your Care or Payment for Your Care:
We may release your health information to the person named in your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (if you have one), or to a friend or family member who is your personal representative (i.e., empowered under state or other law to make heath-related decisions for you). We may give information to someone who helps you pay for your care. Any such disclosure will be limited to information directly relating to the person’s involvement with your care. If you are available, we will provide you an opportunity to object before disclosing any such information. If you are unavailable because, for example, you are incapacitated or because of some other emergency circumstance, we will use our professional judgment to determine what is in your best interest regarding any such disclosure.
Our practice may use and disclose your health information to contact you and remind you of an appointment.
Health-Related Services and Treatment Alternatives:
We may use and disclose health information to tell you about health-related services or recommend possible treatment options or alternatives that may be of interest to you. Please let us know if you do not wish us to send you this information or if you wish to have us use a different address to send this information to you.
We may use health information about you to contact you in an effort to raise money for our not-for-profit operations. We may disclose health information to a foundation related to our practice so that the foundation may contact you in raising money for our practice. We only will release contact information, such as your name, address, and phone number and the dates you received treatment or services from us.
You have the right to opt-out of any fundraising communications. If you choose to do so, please contract our Privacy Officer in writing of your decision to opt-out. Any opt-outs elected will be treated as a revocation of any prior authorization for disclosure of health information for fundraising.
Under certain circumstances, we may use and disclose health 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 health information, trying to balance the research needs with patients’ need for privacy of their health information. Before we use or disclose health information for research, the project will have been approved through this research approval process; but we may disclose health information about you to people preparing to conduct a research project. For example, we may help potential researchers look for patients with specific health needs so long as the health information they review does not leave our facility. 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.
As Required By Law:
We will disclose health information about you when required to do so by federal, state, or local law.
We may release health information to businesses that use your health information to assist us in performing essential healthcare operations, payments, and other functions. Contracts with these businesses must include specific provisions governing the use and protection of our information as required by federal law. We will share with our business associates only the minimum amount of health information necessary for them to assist us.
To Avert a Serious Threat to Health or Safety:
We may use and disclose health 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.
Organ and Tissue Donation:
If you are an organ donor, we may release health 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.
If you are a minor (under 18 years old), we will comply with Georgia law regarding minors. We may release certain types of your health information to your parent or guardian, if such release is required or permitted by law.
Military and Veterans:
If you are a member of the armed forces or separated/discharged from military services, we may release health information about you as required by military command authorities or the Department of Veterans Affairs as may be applicable. We may also release health information about foreign military personnel to the appropriate foreign military authorities.
We may release health 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 health 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; 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.
We may use or disclose your protected health information in an emergency treatment situation. If this happens, your physician shall try to obtain your consent as soon as reasonably practicable after the delivery of treatment. If your physician or another physician in the practice is required by law to treat you and the physician has attempted to obtain your consent but is unable to obtain your consent, he or she may still use or disclose your protected health information to treat you.
We may use and disclose your protected health information if your physician or another physician in the practice attempts to obtain consent from you but is unable to do so due to substantial communication barriers and the physician determines, using professional judgment, that you intend to consent to use or disclosure under the circumstances. We will disclose your protected health information to an interpreter of your choice.
Health Oversight Activities:
We may disclose health 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 health information about you in response to a court or administrative order. We may also disclose health 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.
We may release health 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 our facility; 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, Health Examiners and Funeral Directors:
We may release health information to a coroner or health examiner. This may be necessary, for example, to identify a deceased person or determine the cause of death. We may also release health information about patients to funeral directors as necessary to carry out their duties.
National Security and Intelligence Activities:
We may release health 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 health 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.
If you are an inmate of a correctional institution or under the custody of a law enforcement official, we may release health 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.
Georgia and federal law provide protection for certain types of health information, including information about alcohol or drug abuse, mental health and AIDS/HIV, and may limit whether and how we may disclose information to others.
YOUR RIGHTS REGARDING HEALTH INFORMATION ABOUT YOU
You have the following rights regarding health information we maintain about you:
Right to Inspect and Copy:
You have the right to inspect and copy health information that may be used to make decisions about your care. Usually this includes health and billing records. This does not include psychotherapy notes.
To inspect and copy health information that may be used to make decisions about you, you must submit your request in writing to our Privacy Officer. If we maintain an electronic health record for you, you may request access to your health information in an electronic format or have the information transmitted electronically to a designated person. If you request a copy of the information, we may charge a fee for the costs of copying, mailing, or other supplies and services associated with your request.
We may deny your request to inspect and copy in certain very limited circumstances. In some circumstances, if you are denied access to health information, you may request that the denial be reviewed. If our decision is reviewable under the federal privacy law, another licensed health care professional chosen by our practice 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 health 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 we keep the information. To request an amendment, your request must be made in writing, submitted to our Privacy Officer, and must be contained on one page of paper legibly handwritten or typed in at least 10 point font size. In addition, you must, provide a reason that supports your request for an amendment.
Ordinarily, we will respond to your request for an amendment within 60 days. 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 health information kept by or for our practice;
- Is not part of the information which you would be permitted to inspect and copy; or
- Is accurate and complete.
If we are unable to satisfy your request, we will tell you in writing the reason for the denial and tell you how you may contest the decisions, including your right to submit a statement (of reasonable length) disagreeing with the decision.
Any amendment we make to your health information will be disclosed to those with whom we disclose information as previously specified.
Right to an Accounting of Disclosures:
You have the right to request a list accounting for any disclosures of your health information we have made except for uses and disclosures for treatment, payment, and health care operations as previously described. If we maintain an electronic health record for you, you may also be entitled to receive an accounting of routine disclosures of your health information.
To request this list of disclosures, you must submit your request in writing to our Privacy Officer. Your request must state a time period which may not be longer than six years. 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. We will mail you a list of disclosures in paper form within 30 days of your request, or notify you if we are unable to supply the list within that time period and by what date we can supply the list; but this date will not be exceed a total of 60 days from the date you made the request.
Right to Request Restrictions:
You have the right to request a restriction or limitation on the health 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 health information we disclose about you to someone who is involved in your care or the payment for your care, such as a family member or friend. For example, you could ask that we restrict a specified nurse from use of your information, or that we not disclose information to your spouse about a surgery you had.
We are not required to agree to your request for restrictions if it is not feasible for us to ensure our compliance or believe it will negatively impact the care we may provide you. If we do agree, we will comply with your request unless the information is needed to provide you emergency treatment. To request a restriction, you must make your request in writing to our Privacy Officer. In your request you must tell us what information you want to limit and to whom you want the limits to apply; for example, use of any information by a specified nurse or disclosure of specified surgery to your spouse.
Right to Request Confidential Communications:
You have the right to request that we communicate with you about health 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 a post office box.
To request confidential communications, you must make your request in writing to our Privacy Officer. 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 obtain a paper copy of this notice at anytime. To obtain a copy, please request it from our Privacy Officer. You may also obtain a copy of this notice at our website at http://www.OrthoAtlanta.com.
NOTICE OF BREACH OF HEALTH INFORMATION
In the unlikely event that your health information is inadvertently acquired, accessed, used by or disclosed to an unauthorized person, we will provide you with written notice of such breach. The notice will be sent without unreasonable delay and in no case later than 60 calendar days after discovery of a breach. The notice will be written in plain language and will contain the following information: (i) a brief description of what happened, the date of the breach, if known, and the date of discovery; (ii) the type of health information involved in the breach; (iii) any precautionary steps you should take; (iv) a description of what we are doing to investigate and mitigate the breach and prevent future breaches; and (v) how you may contact us to discuss the breach.
The written notice of breach will be sent by regular mail or by email if you have indicated that you prefer to receive communications from us by email. If the contact information we maintain for you is insufficient or out-of-date, we may attempt to provide notice to you by telephone or other permissible alternate method. Where required by Federal law, we will also report the breach to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
CHANGES TO THIS NOTICE
We are required to abide by the terms of this Notice of Privacy Practices. We may change the terms of our notice at any time. The new notice will be effective for all protected health information that we maintain at that time. Upon your request, we will provide you with any revised Notice of Privacy Practices, or you may access our website at http://www.OrthoAtlanta.com to obtain a copy. You may also ask for a revised copy at your next appointment. The notice will contain on the first page in the top right-hand corner the effective date. In addition, each time you register for treatment or health care services, we will offer you a copy of the current notice in effect.
If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you may file a complaint with us or send your complaint to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) by writing to Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 200 Independence Avenue, S.W., Room 509F Washington, D.C. 20201; by calling 1-800-368-1019; or by sending an email to OCRprivacy@hhs.gov. Generally a complaint must be filed with HHS within 180 days of when you knew or should have known of the action or omission. To file a complaint with us, contact our Privacy Officer. All complaints must be submitted in writing. We cannot, and will not, make you waive your right to file a complaint with HHS as a condition of receiving care from us, or penalize you for filing a complaint with HHS.
OTHER USES OF HEALTH INFORMATION
Other uses and disclosures of health 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 health 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 health 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.