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Privacy Practices

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 our Privacy Officer at (406)488-2100.

Who Will Follow This Notice

Sidney Health Center (SHC) includes the following affiliated care settings: SHC Hospital, SHC Extended Care Facility, SHC Home Health, SHC Hospice, The Lodge at Lone Tree Creek, Community Clinic Pharmacy, MonDak Family Clinic, and SHC-owned clinic offices. All of these care settings follow the terms of this notice. In addition, these care settings may share medical information with each other for treatment, payment or health care operational purposes described in this notice. We reserve the right to revise or amend this notice. In addition, this notice applies to:
  • Any health care personnel authorized to enter information into your medical record, including members of our medical staff, employees, volunteers, trainees, students, or other SHC personnel providing services in the Hospital or other affiliated care setting listed above.
  • All departments and units Sidney Health Center, including our outpatient clinics.


Our Pledge Regarding Medical Information

At SHC, we understand that medical information about you and your health is personal, and we are committed to protecting the privacy of that information, wherever generated or used. We create a record of the care and services you receive at one of our care settings described above. 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 SHC, whether made by SHC personnel or your personal doctor. Your personal doctor, including physician offices not owned by SHC, 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;
  • notify affected individuals following a breach of unsecured protected health information
  • 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

There are certain uses and disclosures that specifically require your permission or authorization including those that would constitute marketing, the sale of your protected health information or uses and disclosures related to psychotherapy notes, unless it is to carry out treatment, payment or health care operations. The following categories describe different ways that we are allowed to use and disclose medical information without your permission or authorization. For each category of uses or disclosures we will explain what we mean and try to give some examples but not every possible 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, pharmacists and their assistants, or other personnel who are involved in taking care of you within the SHC care setting or at another health care facility or clinic where a health care professional is involved in your care. 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 SHC 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 SHC who may be involved in your medical care after you leave SHC, such as family members, clergy or other health care providers that are part of your care.

Incidental Disclosures

Certain incidental disclosures of your medical information may occur as a by-product of permitted uses and disclosures. For example, a visitor may inadvertently overhear a discussion about your care occurring at the nurses’ station.

For Payment

We may use and disclose medical information about you so that the treatment and services you receive at SHC 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 Health Care Operations

We may use and disclose medical information about you for SHC’s operations. These uses and disclosures are necessary to run SHC and to make sure that all of our patients and residents 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 patients to decide what additional services SHC 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 SHC personnel for review and learning purposes. We may also combine the medical information we have with medical information from other health care providers 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 a SHC care setting.

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.

Fundraising Actvities

We may use or disclose a limited amount of information about you to contact you in an effort to raise money for SHC or for other charitable endeavors supported by the Foundation for Community Care. We may release demographic information about you, such as your name, address, phone number, age, gender, insurance status, the dates you received treatment or services, the department of service, treating physician, and outcome of treatment information. Information regarding illnesses and/or treatments will not be released. If you do not want the Foundation to contact you for fundraising efforts, you have the right to opt out of receiving such communications. You may opt out by contacting the Foundation for Community Care at 221 2nd Street NW, Sidney, MT 59270, (406) 488-2357, smiller@foundationforcommunitycare.org.

Facility Directory

Unless you request that such information not be released, we may include certain limited information about you in the facility directory while you are a patient. This information may include your name, location in the facility, your general condition (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 pastor or priest, 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

Unless you object, 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.

Limited Uses When You Are Not Present or Are Incapacitated

If you are not present or cannot object to disclosure of information because of incapacity or an emergency circumstance, we will, in the exercise of professional judgment, disclose protected information in your best interests. We may use professional judgment and experience to make reasonable inferences of your best interest in allowing a person to pick up filled prescriptions, medical supplies, x-rays, or other similar forms of protected health information on your behalf. In addition, we may disclose medical information about you to an entity assisting in a disaster relief effort.

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.

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

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 & 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.

Worker's 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 Activities

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 or authorized by law.
  • To an employer, when required by federal or state law, to conduct medical surveillance of the workplace or to evaluate whether an individual has a work-related illness or injury.

Victims of Abuse, Neglect or Domestic Violence

We may disclose protected health information about an individual we reasonably believe to be the victim of abuse, neglect or domestic violence to a person authorized by law to receive such reports. We will make this disclosure if you agree, or if the disclosure is required or authorized by law and we believe the disclosure is necessary to prevent harm to the victim or other potential victims. Also if the patient is incapacitated, we may disclose information to a person authorized to receive such reports, if that person represents that the protected health information is not intended to be used against the patient and that an immediate enforcement activity depends upon the disclosure.

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.

Law Enforcement

We may release medical information if asked to do so by a law enforcement official:
  • as required by law that mandates reporting of certain types of wounds or injuries.
  • 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 & Funeral Directors

We may release protected 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. We may also release protected health information 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, counterintelligence, and other national security activities authorized by law. 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.

Limited Data Sets

We may disclose limited medical information to third parties for research, public health, and health care operations. Before disclosing such information, we will enter into an agreement that limits the recipient’s use and disclosure of the information and prohibits the recipient from attempting to re-identify the data or contact you.

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. To inspect and copy medical information that may be used to make decisions about you, you must submit your request in writing to the SHC Privacy Officer. 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. 

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 the SHC Privacy Officer. 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 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, or health care operations. To request this list or accounting of disclosures, you must submit your request in writing to the SHC Privacy Officer. Your request must state a time period which may not be longer than six years prior to the date of your request.

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, unless you are requesting a restriction to your health plan for services that you have paid for out-of-pocket, in full at the time of service. 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 Privacy Officer. 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, please submit your request in writing to the 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 a paper copy of this notice. You may ask us to give you a copy of this notice at any time. You may also obtain a copy of this notice at our website, http://www.sidneyhealth.org/Privacy.

Changes to this Notice

We reserve the right to change this notice. We reserve the right to make the revised 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 SHC-affiliated care settings.

Complaints

If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, please contact the Privacy Officer at Sidney Health Center at (406) 488-2100. The quality of your care will not be jeopardized, nor will you be penalized or retaliated against for filing a complaint. If we cannot resolve your concern, you also have the right to file a complaint with the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/complaints/index.html.  

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. We may be unable to take back any disclosures we have already made with your permission.

Effective date: September 23, 2013 
 
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