Notice of Privacy Practices
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.
My Privacy Commitment to you
Your privacy is of the utmost importance to me. The information I have about you will be held to the highest levels of confidentiality. I am required by law to give you a notice of my privacy practices and maintain the privacy of your confidential information. Unless you give me permission in writing, I will only disclose your information when I am ethically and legally required to do so.
Your Confidential Information
I am a mental health care provider. More specifically, I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, licensed by the State of Texas through the State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists. I create and maintain treatment records that contain individually identifiable health information about you. This notice applies to the information and records I have about your psychotherapy, mental health status, and the care you receive at this office. This notice will tell you about the ways in which I may use and disclose information about you and describes your rights and my obligations regarding the use and disclosure about that information.
MY LEGAL DUTY TO SAFEGUARD YOUR PROTECTED HEALTH lNFORMATION (PHI)
I am legally required to protect the privacy of your PHI, which includes information that can be used to identify you that I’ve created or received about your past, present, or future health or condition, the provision of health care to you, or the payment of this health care. I must provide you with this Notice about my privacy practices, and such Notice must explain how, when, and why I will “use” and “disclose” your PHI. A “use” of PHI occurs when I share, examine, utilize, apply, or analyze such information within my practice; PHI is “disclosed” when it is released, transferred, has been given to, or is otherwise divulged to a third party outside of my practice. With some exceptions, I may not use or disclose any more of your PHI than is necessary to accomplish the purpose for which the use or disclosure is made. And, I am legally required to follow the privacy practices described in this Notice.
However, I reserve the right to change the terms of this Notice and my privacy policies at any time. Any changes will apply to PHI on file with me already. Before I make any important changes to my policies, I will promptly change this Notice and post a new copy of it in my office and on my website (if applicable). You can also request a copy of this Notice from me, or you can view a copy of it in my office or at my website, which is located at (insert website address, if applicable).
HOW I MAY USE AND DISCLOSE YOUR PHI.
I will use and disclose your PHI for many different reasons. For some of these uses or disclosures, I will need your prior written authorization; for others, however, I do not. Listed below are the different categories of my uses and disclosures along with some examples of each category.
A. Uses and Disclosures Relating to Treatment, Payment, or Health Care Operations Do Not Require Your Prior Written Consent. I can use and disclose your PHI without your consent for the following reasons:
1. For Treatment. I can use your PHI within my practice to provide you with mental health treatment, including discussing or sharing your PHI with my trainees and interns. I can disclose your PHI to physi-cians, psychiatrists, psychologists, and other licensed health care providers who provide you with health care services or are involved in your care. For example, if a psychiatrist is treating you, I can disclose your PHI to your psychiatrist to coordinate your care.
2. To Obtain Payment for Treatment. I can use and disclose your PHI to bill and collect payment for the treatment and services provided by me to you. For example, I might send your PHI to your insurance company or health plan to get paid for the health care services that I have provided to you. I may also provide your PHI to my business associates, such as billing companies, claims processing companies, and others that process my health care claims.
3. For Health Care Operations. I can use and disclose your PHI to operate my practice. For example, I might use your PHI to evaluate the quality of health care services that you received or to evaluate the performance of the health care professionals who provided such services to you. I may also provide your PHI to my accountant, attorney, consultants, or others to further my health care operations.
4. Patient Incapacitation or Emergency. I may also disclose your PHI to others without your consent if you are incapacitated or if an emergency exists. For example, your consent isn’t required if you need emergency treatment, as long as I try to get your consent after treatment is rendered, or if I try to get your consent but you are unable to communicate with me (for example, if you are unconscious or in severe pain) and I think that you would consent to such treatment if you were able to do so.
B. Certain Other Uses and Disclosures Also Do Not Require Your Consent or Authorization. I can use and disclose your PHI without your consent or authorization for the following reasons:
1. When federal, state, or local laws require disclosure. For example, I may have to make a disclosure to applicable governmental officials when a law requires me to report information to government agencies and law enforcement personnel about victims of abuse or neglect.
2. When judicial or administrative proceedings require disclosure. For example, if you are involved in a lawsuit or a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, I may have to use or disclose your PHI in response to a court or administrative order. I may also have to use or disclose your PHI in response to a subpoena.
3. When law enforcement requires disclosure. For example, I may have to use or disclose your PHI in response to a search warrant.
4. When public health activities require disclosure. For example, I may have to use or disclose your PHI to report to a government official an adverse reaction that you have to a medication.
5. When health oversight activities require disclosure. For example, I may have to provide information to assist the government in conducting an investigation or inspection of a health care provider or organization.
6. To avert a serious threat to health or safety. For example, I may have to use or disclose your PHI to avert a serious threat to the health or safety of yourself or others. However, any such disclosures will only be made to someone able to prevent the threatened harm from occurring.
7. For specialized government functions. If you are in the military, I may have to use or disclose your PHI for national security purposes, including protecting the President of the United States or conducting intelligence operations.
8. To remind you about appointments and to inform you of health-related benefits or services. For example, I may have to use or disclose your PHI to remind you about your appointments, or to give you information about treatment alternatives, other health care services, or other health care benefits that I offer that may be of interest to you.
C. Certain Uses and Disclosures Require You to Have the Opportunity to Object.
1. Disclosures to Family, Friends, or Others. I may provide your PHI to a family member, friend, or other person that you indicate is involved in your care or the payment for your health care, unless you object in whole or in part. The opportunity to consent may be obtained retroactively in emergency situations.
D. Other Uses and Disclosures Require Your Prior Written Authorization. In any other situation not described in sections III A, B, and C above, I will need your written authorization before using or disclosing any of your PHI. If you choose to sign an authorization to disclose your PHI, you can later revoke such authorization in writing to stop any future uses and disclosures (to the extent that I haven’t taken any action in reliance on such authorization) of your PHI by me.
Your Privacy Rights
You have the right to request restrictions on certain uses and disclosures of health information about you such as those necessary to carry out treatment, payment, or health care operations. I am not required to agree to your requested restriction. If I do agree, I will maintain a written record of the agreed upon restriction.
A. The Right to Request Restrictions on My Uses and Disclosures. You have the right to request restrictions or limitations on my uses or disclosures of your PHI to carry out my treatment, payment, or health care operations. You also have the right to request that I restrict or limit disclosures of your PHI to family members or friends or others involved in your care or who are financially responsible for your care. Please submit such requests to me in writing. I will consider your requests, but I am not legally required to accept them. If I do accept your requests, I will put them in writing and I will abide by them, except in emergency situations. However, be advised, that you may not limit the uses and disclosures that I am legally required to make.
B. The Right to Choose How I Send PHI to You. You have the right to request that I send confidential information to you to at an alternate address (for example, sending information to your work address rather than your home address) or by alternate means (for example, e-mail instead of regular mail). I must agree to your request so long as it is reasonable and you specify how or where you wish to be contacted, and, when appropriate, you provide me with information as to how payment for such alternate communications will be handled. I may not require an explanation from you as to the basis of your request as a condition of providing communications on a confidential basis.
C. The Right to Inspect and Receive a Copy of Your PHI. You have the right to inspect and copy protected health information about you by making a specific request to do so in writing. This right to inspect and copy is not absolute – in other words, I am permitted to deny access for specified reasons. For instance, you do not have this right of access with respect to my “psychotherapy notes.” The term “psychotherapy notes” means notes recorded (in any medium) by a health care provider who is a mental health professional documenting or analyzing the contents of conversation during a private counseling session or a group, joint, or family counseling session and that are separated from the rest of the individual’s medical (includes mental health) record. The term excludes counseling session start and stop times, the modalities and frequencies of treatment furnished, and any summary of the following items: diagnosis, functional status, the treatment plan, symptoms, prognosis, and progress to date.
D. The Right to Receive a List of the Disclosures I Have Made. You have the right to receive an accounting from me of the disclosures of protected health information made by me in the six years prior to the date on which the accounting is requested. As with other rights, this right is not absolute. The list will not include disclosures made for my treatment, payment, or health care operations; disclosures made to you; disclosures you authorized; disclosures incident to a use or disclosure permitted or required by the federal privacy rule; disclosures made for national security or intelligence; disclosures made to correctional institutions or law enforcement personnel.
E. 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 I correct the existing information or add the missing information. You must provide the request and your reason for the request in writing. You have the right to amend information in my records by making a request to do so in a writing that provides a reason to support the requested amendment. This right to amend is not absolute – in other words, I am permitted to deny the requested amendment for specified reasons. You also have the right, subject to limitations, to provide me with a written addendum with respect to any item or statement in your records that you believe to be incorrect or incomplete and to have the addendum become a part of your record.
F. The Right to Receive a Paper Copy of this Notice. You have the right to receive a paper copy of this notice even if you have agreed to receive it via e-mail.
PLEASE NOTE: In order to avoid confusion or misunderstanding, I ask that if you wish to exercise any of the rights enumerated above, that you put your request in writing and deliver or send the writing to me. If you wish to learn more detailed information about any of the above rights, or their limitations, please let me know. I am willing to discuss any of these matters with you. As mentioned elsewhere in this document, I am the Privacy Officer of this practice.
I am required by law to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of your personal health information. This notice is intended to let you know of my legal duties, your rights, and my privacy practices with respect to such information. I am required to abide by the terms of the notice currently in effect. I reserve the right to change the terms of this notice and/or my privacy practices and to make the changes effective for all protected health information that I maintain, even if it was created or received prior to the effective date of the notice revision. If I make a revision to this notice, I will make the notice available at my office upon request on or after the effective date of the revision and I will post the revised notice in a clear and prominent location.
As the Privacy Officer of this practice, I have a duty to develop, implement and adopt clear privacy policies and procedures for my practice and I have done so. I am the individual who is responsible for assuring that these privacy policies and procedures are followed not only by me, but by any employees that work for me or that may work for me in the future. I have trained or will train any employees that may work for me so that they understand my privacy policies and procedures. In general, client records, and information about clients, are treated as confidential in my practice and are released to no one without the written authorization of the client, except as indicated in this notice or except as may be otherwise permitted by law. Client records are kept secured so that they are not readily available to those who do not need them.
For more information or if you believe your privacy rights have been violated you may file a complaint with me by simply providing me with a writing that specifies the manner in which you believe the violation occurred, the approximate date of such occurrence, and any details that you believe will be helpful to me. This can be delivered to me as the Contact Person of this practice at: 4412 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX 78756 or filed with the Secretary of Health and Human Services at the Office of Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 200 Independence Avenue SW, Room 509F, HHH Building, Washington, D.C. 20201. There will be no retaliation for filing a complaint.
EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS NOTICE: This notice went into effect on June 30, 2011.