This notice describes information about privacy practices followed by our employees, staff and other office personnel. The practices described in this notice will also be followed by healthcare providers you consult with by telephone.
Your Health Information
This notice applies to the information and records we have about your health, health status, and the healthcare and services you receive at WPI Health Services.
We are required by law to give you this notice. It will tell you about the ways in which we may use and disclose health information about you and describes your rights and our obligations regarding the use and disclosure of that information.
How We May Use And Disclose Health Information About You
We may use health information about you to provide you with medical treatment or services. We may disclose health information about you to doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, technicians, office staff or other personnel who are involved in taking care of you and your health.
For example, we may be treating you for an infection and may need to know if you have other health problems that could complicate your treatment. We may use your medical history to decide what treatment is best for you. We may also tell another doctor or healthcare provider about your condition so that they can help determine the most appropriate care for you.
Different personnel in our office may share information about you and disclose information to people who do not work in our office in order to coordinate your care, such as phoning in prescriptions to your pharmacy, scheduling lab work and ordering X-rays. Other healthcare providers may be part of your medical care outside this office and may require information about you that we have.
We may use and disclose health information about you so that the treatment and services you receive at this office 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 service you received here so your health plan will reimburse you for the service. 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 Healthcare Operations
We may use and disclose health information about you in order to run the office and make sure that you and our other patients receive quality care. For example, we may use your health information to evaluate the performance of our staff in caring for you. We may also use health information about all or many of our patients to help us decide what additional services we should offer, how we can become more efficient, or whether certain new treatments are effective.
We may contact you as a reminder that you have an appointment for treatment or medical care at the office.
We may tell you about or recommend possible treatment options or alternatives that may be of interest to you.
Please notify us if you do not wish to be contacted for appointment reminders, or if you do not wish to receive any other communications from the health center. If you advise us in writing that you do not wish to receive such communications, we will not use or disclose your information for these purposes.
You may revoke your Consent at any time by giving us written notice. Your revocation will be effective when we receive it, but it will not apply to any uses and disclosures that occurred before that time.
If you do revoke your Consent, we will not be permitted to use or disclose information for purposes of treatment, payment or healthcare operations, and we may therefore be limited in providing you with healthcare treatment and services.
We may use or disclose health information about you without your permission for the following purposes, subject to all applicable legal requirements and limitations:
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.
Required by Law
We will disclose health information about you when required to do so by federal, state or local law.
We may use and disclose health information about you for research projects that are subject to a special approval process. We will ask you for your 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 office.
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 such donation and transplantation.
Military, Veterans, National Security and Intelligence
If you are or were a member of the armed forces, or part of the national security or intelligence communities, we may be required by the military command or other government authorities to release health information about you. We may also release information about foreign military personnel to the appropriate foreign military authority.
We may release health information about you for worker’s 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 reasons in order to prevent or control disease, injury or disability; or report births, deaths, suspected abuse or neglect, non-accidental physical injuries, reactions to medications or problems with products.
Health Oversight Activities
We may disclose health information to a health oversight agency for audits, investigations, inspections, or licensing purposes. These disclosures may be necessary for certain state and federal agencies to monitor the healthcare 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. Subject to all applicable legal requirements, we may also disclose health information about you in response to a subpoena.
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, subject to all applicable legal requirements.
Coroners, Medical Examiners, and Funeral Directors
We may release health information to a coroner or medical examiner. This may be necessary, for example, to identify a deceased person or determine the cause of death.
Information Not Personally Identifiable
We may use or disclose health information about you in a way that does not personally identify you or reveal who you are.
Family and Friends
We may disclose health information about you to your family members or friends if we obtain your verbal agreement to do so or if we give you an opportunity to object to such a disclosure and you do not raise an objection. We may also disclose health information to your family or friends if we can infer from the circumstances, based on our professional judgment, that you would not object. For example, we may assume you agree to our disclosure of your personal health information to your spouse when you bring your spouse with you into the exam room during treatment or while treatment is discussed.
In situations where you are not capable of giving consent (because you are not present or due to your incapacity or medical emergency), we may, using our professional judgment, determine that a disclosure to your family member or friend is in your best interest. In that situation, we will disclose only health information relevant to the person’s involvement in your care. For example, we may inform the person who accompanied you to the emergency room that you are critically ill and provide updates on your progress and prognosis. We may also use our professional judgment and experience to make reasonable inferences that it is in your best interest to allow another person to act on your behalf to pick up, for example, filled prescriptions, medical supplies, or x-rays.
Other Uses And Disclosures Of Health Information
We will not use or disclose your health information for any purpose other than those identified in the previous sections without your specific, written Authorization. We must obtain your Authorization separate from any Consent we may have obtained from you. If you give us Authorization to use or disclose health information about you, you may revoke that Authorization, in writing, at any time. If you revoke your Authorization, we will no longer use or disclose information about you for the reasons covered by your written Authorization, but we cannot take back any uses or disclosures already made with your permission.
If we have HIV or substance abuse information about you, we cannot release that information without a special signed, written authorization (different than the Authorization and Consent mentioned above) from you. In order to disclose these types of records for purposes of treatment, payment or healthcare operations, we will have to have both your signed Consent and a special written Authorization that complies with the law governing HIV or substance abuse records.
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 your health information, such as medical and billing records, that we use to make decisions about your care. You must submit a written request to Regina Roberto, Director of Health Services, in order to inspect and/or copy your health information. If you request a copy of the information, we may charge a fee for the costs of copying, mailing or other associated supplies. We may deny your request to inspect and/or copy in certain limited
circumstances. If you are denied access to you health information, you may ask that the denial be reviewed. If such a review is required by law, we will select a licensed healthcare professional to review your request and our denial. The person conducting the review will not be the person who denied your request, and we will comply with the outcome of the review.
Right to Amend
If you believe 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 as long as the information is kept by this office.
To request an amendment, complete and submit a Medical Record Amendment/Correction Form to Regina Roberto, Director of Health Services. 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:
We did not create, unless the person or entity that created the information is no longer available to make the amendment.
Is not part of the health information that we keep.
You would not be permitted to inspect and copy.
Is accurate and complete.
Right to an Accounting of Disclosures
You have the right to request an “accounting of disclosures.” This is a list of the disclosures we made of medical information about you for purposes other than treatment, payment and healthcare operations. To obtain this list, you must submit your request in writing to Regina Roberto, Director of Health Services. It must state a time period, which may not be longer than six years. Your request should indicate in what form you want the list (for example, on paper or electronically). 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 health information we use or disclose about you for treatment, payment or healthcare 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 it, 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 may complete and submit the Request For Restrictions on Use/Disclosure of Medical Information to Regina Roberto, Director of Health Services.
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 may complete and submit the Request For Restriction on Use/Disclosure of Medical Information And/Or Confidential Communication to Regina Roberto, Director of Health Services. 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 it electronically, you are still entitled to a paper copy. To obtain such a copy, contact Donna Damien, Secretary WPI Health Services.
Changes To This Notice
We reserve the right to change this notice, and 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 summary of the current notice in the office with its effective date in the top right hand corner. You are entitled to a copy of the notice currently in effect.
If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you may file a complaint with our office or with the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. To file a complaint with our office, contact Regina Roberto, Director of Health Services, at 508-831-5520 or by mail at WPI Health Services, 100 Institute Rd. Worcester, MA 01609. You will not be penalized for filing a complaint.