Notice of HIPPA Privacy Practices
This notice of health information practices informs you of general rules in confidentiality for private health information. Much of what is described here, you already have read and acknowledged via the secure server, and/or it has been discussed in the initial consultation. Please review this information as it is a federal requirement that this office provide a copy of it to you; it contains helpful information about what this office will share, may/may not share, or must share in relationship to your records and mental health services.
The information we collect from you is used in different ways, depending on Several different things.
Who is paying for services:
- If you are, your records will largely be maintained to satisfy your requests and/or
- If your insurance or some other third party payor is accepted here, then your records will be confidential, except as necessary and required by the payor in order to effect payment.
If the payor requires general or specific information in order to cover the fees for services:
- Some third party payors require a diagnosis; some require an “assessed problem area;” some third party payors can (or will depending on how many sessions are necessary) require a summary treatment plan with specific treatment efforts previously provided and what specific future goals will be targeted; some require a follow-up discharge or referral summary (whether your treatment was actually completed or not).
- In most cases, third party payors request participating providers, as a condition of participation, acknowledgement and agreement that because federal dollars are a part of the insurance payment system, some federal oversight and federal regulation grants others special access to records (examples include, quality assurances, formal complaints against the provider, and regulated documentation standards).
- Because the various third party payors each have a system and a protocol generally unique to their particular business practices, with various and specific oversight and regulation by federal or state standards, this practice will abide by all contract terms necessary to comply with the third party payor guidelines (even as they change from time to time, and by the legal mandates (as the law requires it). You have signed a contract with your third party payor too, and you should be aware of the terms of that agreement, as it can affect how your private health information is used or shared.
Other specific examples, such as:
- Confidentiality exceptions have existed for years with your private health information, for example in the case of suicide, homicide, injury to children, elderly, and in some scenarios in the case of domestic violence – where safety is at risk or suspected to be at risk – this information is reported to law enforcement, medical personnel, and / or family members (as appropriate to ensure safety)
- Substance use / abuse / dependency information is specifically protected from being shared without your consent; be aware that a diagnosis can include information that inherently informs others of substance use/abuse/dependency (where a diagnosis is required by the third party payor for example) and/or in “assessed problem,” treatment/discharge planning reports.
Understanding your Client Record
Each time you visit the office a notation of your visit is recorded in your client record (this record is your Protected Health Information – PHI). Typically this record contains your reason(s) for seeking counseling, symptoms, a diagnosis, and a plan for treatment.
This information is used As:
- A basis for planning your treatment.
- A means of communication among health professionals who care for you. A Release of Information is required.
- A legal document describing your treatment.
- A means for claims collections.
- A source of information for public health officials.
Understanding Our Policies
- We are ethically and legally bound to keep all information including Private Health Information (PHI) confidential except in the following instances:
- The state and other jurisdictions requires reporting to the appropriate state agency any reasonable suspicion of child abuse, neglect, or exploitation; elder adult abuse and/or dependent adult abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
- Using third-party reimbursement (submitting an insurance claim) authorizes your therapist to disclose
information about you that may be retrieved by others in the course of paying your claims. Other information from your health insurance company may also be reported to a national non-profit data gathering agency identifying certain health information.
- If you disclose to your therapist that you intend to harm someone, the therapist is required by law to warn
the intended victim and may be required to involve law enforcement.
- Confidentiality may be broken to protect you from self-harm in suicidal situations.
- Clients may sign release of information agreements so the therapist can provide information to, or receive
information from another helping professional, if it is decided this will assist in treatment.
- Records may be subpoenaed by the court in some instances.
- Investigations of malpractice or board related complaints may require the practice to release identifying information to a third party.
Your Information Rights and Responsibility
Understanding what is in your record and how your information is used helps you to ensure its accuracy, better understand who, when, and why others may make more informed decisions when authorizing disclosure to
others. Although your record is the physical property of this office, the information belongs to you.
You have the right to
- Obtain a paper copy of this notice.
- Obtain an accounting of disclosures of your client records.
- Obtain a copy of your client record.
- Request a restriction on certain uses and disclosures of your information.
- Revoke your authorization to use or disclose your records except to the extent that action has already been taken, or as required by law.
We are required to
- Maintain the privacy of your health record.
- Provide you with this notice.
- Abide by the terms of this notice.
- Notify you if we are unable to agree to a requested restriction.
- Accommodate reasonable requests you may have to communicate health information by alternative means.
- We reserve the right to change our practice and make new provisions effective for all protected health information we maintain.
- Should our information practices changed, we will post and you may request a written copy of a revised Notice of Privacy Practices from this office.
- We will also discontinue to use or disclose your client information after we have received a revocation of the authorization.
For Information or To Report a Problem
If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you can file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.