Notice of My Policies and Practices to Protect the Privacy of Your Health Information

THIS NOTICE DESCRIBES HOW PSYCHOLOGICAL AND MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED AND HOW YOU CAN GET ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION. PLEASE REVIEW IT CAREFULLY.

  1. I. Uses and Disclosures for Treatment, Payment, and Health Care Operations

I may use or disclose your protected health information (PHI), for treatment, payment, and health care operations purposes with your consent. To help clarify these terms, here are some definitions:

  • PHI” refers to information in your health record that could identify you.

  • Treatment, Payment and Health Care Operations”

Treatment is when I provide, coordinate or manage your health care and other services related to your health care. An example of treatment would be when I consult with another health care provider, such as your family physician or another psychologist.

- Payment is when I obtain reimbursement for your healthcare. Examples of payment are when I disclose your PHI to your health insurer to obtain reimbursement for your health care or to determine eligibility or coverage.

- Health Care Operations are activities that relate to the performance and operation of my practice. Examples of health care operations are quality assessment and improvement activities, business-related matters such as audits and administrative services, and case management and care coordination.

  • Use” applies only to activities within my office, such as sharing, employing, applying, utilizing, examining, and analyzing information that identifies you.

  • Disclosure” applies to activities outside of my office, such as releasing, transferring, or providing access to information about you to other parties.

I rely on certain persons or other entities, who or which are not my employees, to provide services on my behalf. These persons or entities may include accountants, lawyers and billing services. Where these persons or entities perform services, which require the disclosure of PHI, they are considered under the Privacy Rule to be my Business Associates. I enter into a written agreement with each of my Business Associates to obtain satisfactory assurance that the Business Associates will safeguard the privacy of the PHI of my clients. I rely on my Business Associates to abide by the contract but will take reasonable steps to remedy any breaches of the agreement that I become aware of.

    II. Uses and Disclosures Requiring Authorization

I may use or disclose PHI for purposes outside of treatment, payment, and health care operations when your appropriate authorization is obtained. An “authorization” is written permission above and beyond the general consent that permits only specific disclosures. In those instances when I am asked for information for purposes outside of treatment, payment and health care operations, I will obtain an authorization from you before releasing this information. I will obtain an authorization from you before using or disclosing PHI in a way that is not described in this Notice. I will also need to obtain an authorization before releasing your psychotherapy notes. “Psychotherapy notes” are notes I have made about our conversation during a private, group, joint, or family counseling session, which I have kept separate from the rest of your medical record. These notes are given a greater degree of protection than PHI. You may revoke all such authorizations (of PHI or psychotherapy notes) at any time, provided each revocation is in writing. You may not revoke an authorization to the extent that (1) I have relied on that authorization; or (2) if the authorization was obtained as a condition of obtaining insurance coverage, and the law provides the insurer the right to contest the claim under the policy.

  1. Uses and Disclosures with Neither Consent nor Authorization

I may use or disclose PHI without your consent or authorization in the following circumstances:

  • Child Abuse: If I know, or have reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver or other person responsible for the child's welfare, the law requires that I report such knowledge or suspicion to the Florida Department of Children and Families.

  • Adult and Domestic Abuse: If I know, or have reasonable cause to suspect, that a vulnerable adult (disabled or elderly) has been or is being abused, neglected, or exploited, I am required by law to immediately report such knowledge or suspicion to the Florida Abuse Hotline.

  • Health Oversight: If a complaint is filed against me with the Florida Department of Health on behalf of the Board of Psychology, the Department has the authority to subpoena confidential mental health information from me relevant to that complaint.

  • Judicial or Administrative Proceedings: If you are involved in a court proceeding and a request is made for information about your diagnosis or treatment and the records thereof, such information is privileged under state law, and I will not release information without the written authorization of you or your legal representative, or a subpoena of which you have been properly notified and you have failed to inform me that you are opposing the subpoena or a court order. The privilege does not apply when you are being evaluated for a third party or where the evaluation is court ordered. You will be informed in advance if this is the case.

  • Serious Threat to Health or Safety: When you present a clear and immediate probability of physical harm to yourself, to other individuals, or to society, I may communicate relevant information concerning this to the potential victim, appropriate family member, or law enforcement or other appropriate authorities.

  • Worker’s Compensation: If you file a worker's compensation claim, I must, upon request of your employer, the insurance carrier, the attorney for the employer or insurance carrier, or an authorized rehabilitation provider, furnish your relevant records to those persons.

  • Other: When the use and disclosure without your consent or authorization is allowed under other sections of Section 164.512 of the Privacy Rule and the state's confidentiality law. This includes certain narrowly-defined disclosures to law enforcement agencies, to a health oversight agency (such as HHS or a state department of health), to a coroner or medical examiner, or for specialized government functions such as fitness for military duties, eligibility for VA benefits, and national security and intelligence.

    IV. Client's Rights and Psychologist's Duties

Client’s Rights:

  • Right to Request Restrictions – You have the right to request restrictions on certain uses and disclosures of protected health information about you. However, I am not required to agree to a restriction you request.

  • Right to Restrict Disclosures When You Have Paid for Your Care Out-of-Pocket -You have the right to restrict certain disclosures of PHI to a health plan when you pay out-of-pocket in full for my services.

  • Right to Receive Confidential Communications by Alternative Means and at Alternative Locations You have the right to request and receive confidential communications of PHI by alternative means and at alternative locations. (For example, you may not want a family member to know that you are seeing me. Upon your request, I will send your bills to another address.)

  • Right to Inspect and Copy – You have the right to inspect or obtain a copy (or both) of PHI in my mental health and billing records used to make decisions about you for as long as the PHI is maintained in the record. On your request, I will discuss with you the details of the request process.

  • Right to Amend – You have the right to request an amendment of PHI for as long as the PHI is maintained in the record. I may deny your request. On your request, I will discuss with you the details of the amendment process.

  • Right to an Accounting – You generally have the right to receive an accounting of disclosures of PHI regarding you. On your request, I will discuss with you the details of the accounting process.

  • Right to a Paper Copy – You have the right to obtain a paper copy of the notice from me upon request, even if you have agreed to receive the notice electronically.

  • Right to Be Notified if There is a Breach of Your Unsecured PHI – You have a right to be notified if: (a) there is a breach (a use or disclosure of your PHI in violation of the HIPAA Privacy Rule) involving your PHI; (B) that PHI has not been encrypted to government standards; and (c) my risk assessment fails to determine that there is a low probability that your PHI has been compromised.

Psychologist’s Duties:

  • I am required by law to maintain the privacy of PHI and to provide you with a notice of my legal duties and privacy practices with respect to PHI.

  • I reserve the right to change the privacy policies and practices described in this notice. Unless I notify you of such changes, however, I am required to abide by the terms currently in effect.

  • If I revise my policies and procedures, I will provide you with written notice.

  1. V. Questions and Complaints

If you have questions about this notice, disagree with a decision I make about access to your records, or have other concerns about your privacy rights, you may contact me with your complaint. If you believe that your privacy rights have been violated and wish to file a complaint with me, you may send your written complaint to Carol Twitchell, 1608 Oak St, Sarasota FL 34236. You may also send a written complaint to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I can provide you with the appropriate address upon request. You have specific rights under the Privacy Rule. I will not retaliate against you for exercising your right to file a complaint.

  1. VI. Effective Date, Restrictions and Changes to Privacy Policy

This notice will go into effect on April 14, 2003. I reserve the right to change the terms of this notice and to make the new notice provisions effective for all PHI that I maintain. The newest version will always be available at www.CarolTwitchell.com.

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