Notice of 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.

We are required by applicable federal and state law to maintain the privacy of your health information. We are also required to give you this Notice about our privacy practices, our legal duties, and your rights concerning your health information.

This practice uses and discloses health information about you for treatment, to obtain payment for treatment, for administrative purposes, and to evaluate the quality of care that you receive.

This notice describes our privacy practices.  You can request a copy of this notice at any time.  For more information about this notice or our privacy practices and policies, please contact the Office Coordinator or the Privacy Officer listed below.


Our Responsibilities

We are required by law to maintain the privacy of your health information and provide you a description of our privacy practices.  We will abide by the terms of this notice.


Treatment, Payment, Health Care Operations

Treatment

We are permitted to use and disclose your medical information to those involved in your treatment.  For example, the physician in this practice is a specialist.  When we provide treatment, we may request that your primary care physician share your medical information with us.  Also, we may provide your primary care physician information about your particular condition so that he or she can appropriately treat you for other medical conditions, if any.

Payment

We are permitted to use and disclose your medical information to bill and collect payment for the services provide to you.  For example, we may complete a claim form to obtain payment from your insurer or HMO.   The form will contain medical information, such as a description of the medical service provided to you, that your insurer or HMO needs to approve payment to us.

Health Care Operations

We are permitted to use or disclose your medical information for the purposes of health care operations, which are activities that support this practice and ensure that quality care is delivered.   This may include but is not limited to outsourcing our medical transcription and maintaining a 24 hour answering service, or, we may ask another physician to review this practice’s charts and medical records to evaluate our performance so that we may ensure that only the best health care is provided by this practice.


Disclosures That Can Be Made Without Your Authorization

There are situations in which we are permitted by law to disclose or use your medical information without your written authorization or an opportunity to object.  In other situations we will ask for your written authorization before using or disclosing any identifiable health information about you.  If you choose to sign an authorization to disclose information, you can later revoke that authorization, in writing, to stop future uses and disclosures.  However, any revocation will not apply to disclosures or uses already made or taken in reliance on that authorization.

Public Health, Abuse or Neglect, and Health Oversight

We may disclose your medical information for public health activities.  Public health activities are mandated by federal, state, or local government for the collection of information about disease, vital statistics (like births and death), or injury by a public health authority.  We may disclose medical information, if authorized by law, to a person who may have been exposed to a disease or may be at risk for contracting or spreading a disease or condition.  We may disclose your medical information to report reactions to medications, problems with products, or to notify people of recalls of products they may be using.

We may also disclose medical information to a public agency authorized to receive reports of child abuse or neglect.  Texas law requires physicians to report child abuse or neglect. Regulations also permit the disclosure of information to report abuse or neglect of elders or the disabled.

We may disclose your medical information to a health oversight agency for those activities authorized by law. Examples of these activities are audits, investigations, licensure applications and inspections which are all government activities undertaken to monitor the health care delivery system and compliance with other laws, such as civil rights laws.

Legal Proceedings and Law Enforcement

We may disclose your medical information in the course of judicial or administrative proceedings in response to an order of the court (or the administrative decision-maker) or other appropriate legal process.  Certain requirements must be met before the information is disclosed.

If asked by a law enforcement official, we may disclose your medical information under limited circumstances provided that the information:

  • Is released pursuant to legal process, such as a warrant or subpoena;
  • Pertains to a victim of crime and your are incapacitated;
  • Pertains to a person who has died under circumstances that may be related to criminal conduct;
  • Is about a victim of crime and we are unable to obtain the person’s agreement;
  • Is released because of a crime that has occurred on these premises; or
  • Is released to locate a fugitive, missing person, or suspect.

We may also release information if we believe the disclosure is necessary to prevent or lessen an imminent threat to the health or safety of a person.

Workers’ Compensation

We may disclose your medical information as required by the Texas workers’ compensation law.

Inmates

If you are an inmate or under the custody of law enforcement, we may release your medical information to the correctional institution or law enforcement official.  This release is permitted to allow the institution to provide you with medical care, to protect your health or the health and safety of others, or for the safety and security of the institution.

Military, National Security and Intelligence Activities, Protection of the President

We may disclose your medical information for specialized governmental functions such as separation or discharge from military service, requests as necessary by appropriate military command officers (if you are in the military), authorized national security and intelligence activities, as well as authorized activities for the provision of protective services for the President of the United States, other authorized government officials, or foreign heads of state.

Research, Organ Donation, Coroners, Medical Examiners, and Funeral Directors

When a research project and its privacy protections have been approved by an Institutional Review Board or privacy board, we may release medical information to researchers for research purposes.  We may release medical information to organ procurement organizations for the purpose of facilitating organ, eye, or tissue donation if you are a donor.  Also, we may release your medical information to a coroner or medical examiner to identify a deceased or a cause of death.  Further, we may release your medical information to a funeral director where such a disclosure is necessary for the director to carry out his duties.

Required by Law

We may release your medical information where the disclosure is required by law.


Your Rights Under Federal Privacy Regulations

The United States Department of Health and Human Services created regulations intended to protect patient privacy as required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).  Those regulations create several privileges that patients may exercise.  We will not retaliate against a patient that exercises their HIPAA rights.

You have the right to:

  • Get a copy of your paper or electronic medical record
  • Correct your paper or electronic medical record
  • Request confidential communication
  • Ask us to limit the information we share
  • Get a list of those with whom we’ve shared your information
  • Get a copy of this privacy notice
  • Choose someone to act for you
  • File a complaint if you believe your privacy rights have been violated

Your Choices

You have some choices in the way that we use and share information as we:

  • Tell family and friends about your condition
  • Provide disaster relief
  • Include you in a hospital directory
  • Provide mental health care
  • Market our services and sell your information
  • Raise funds
Our Uses and Disclosures

We may use and share your information as we:

  • Treat you
  • Run our organization
  • Bill for your services
  • Help with public health and safety issues
  • Do research
  • Comply with the law
  • Respond to organ and tissue donation requests
  • Work with a medical examiner or funeral director
  • Address workers’ compensation, law enforcement, and other government requests
  • Respond to lawsuits and legal actions

When it comes to your health information, you have certain rights. This section explains your rights and some of our responsibilities to help you.
Your Rights

Get an electronic or paper copy of your medical record

  • You can ask to see or get an electronic or paper copy of your medical record and other health information we have about you. Ask us how to do this.
  • We will provide a copy or a summary of your health information, usually within 30 days of your request. We may charge a reasonable, cost-based fee.

Ask us to correct your medical record

  • You can ask us to correct health information about you that you think is incorrect or incomplete. Ask us how to do this.
  • We may say “no” to your request, but we’ll tell you why in writing within 60 days.

Request confidential communications

  • You can ask us to contact you in a specific way (for example, home or office phone) or to send mail to a different address.
  • We will say “yes” to all reasonable requests.

Ask us to limit what we use or share

  • You can ask us not to use or share certain health information for treatment, payment, or our operations. We are not required to agree to your request, and we may say “no” if it would affect your care.
  • If you pay for a service or health care item out-of-pocket in full, you can ask us not to share that information for the purpose of payment or our operations with your health insurer. We will say “yes” unless a law requires us to share that information.

Get a list of those with whom we’ve shared information

  • You can ask for a list (accounting) of the times we’ve shared your health information for six years prior to the date you ask, who we shared it with, and why.
  • We will include all the disclosures except for those about treatment, payment, and health care operations, and certain other disclosures (such as any you asked us to make). We’ll provide one accounting a year for free but will charge a reasonable, cost-based fee if you ask for another one within 12 months.

Get a copy of this privacy notice

You can ask for a paper copy of this notice at any time, even if you have agreed to receive the notice electronically. We will provide you with a paper copy promptly.

Choose someone to act for you

  • If you have given someone medical power of attorney or if someone is your legal guardian, that person can exercise your rights and make choices about your health information.
  • We will make sure the person has this authority and can act for you before we take any action.

File a complaint if you feel your rights are violated

  • You can complain if you feel we have violated your rights by contacting us using the information on page 1.
  • You can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights by sending a letter to 200 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20201, calling 1-877-696-6775, or visiting hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/complaints/.
  • We will not retaliate against you for filing a complaint.

Your Choices

For certain health information, you can tell us your choices about what we share. If you have a clear preference for how we share your information in the situations described below, talk to us. Tell us what you want us to do, and we will follow your instructions.

In these cases, you have both the right and choice to tell us to:

  • Share information with your family, close friends, or others involved in your care
  • Share information in a disaster relief situation
  • Include your information in a hospital directory

If you are not able to tell us your preference, for example if you are unconscious, we may go ahead and share your information if we believe it is in your best interest. We may also share your information when needed to lessen a serious and imminent threat to health or safety.

In these cases we never share your information unless you give us written permission:

  • Marketing purposes
  • Sale of your information
  • Most sharing of psychotherapy notes

In the case of fundraising:

  • We may contact you for fundraising efforts, but you can tell us not to contact you again.

Our Uses and Disclosures

How do we typically use or share your health information?

We typically use or share your health information in the following ways.

Treat you

We can use your health information and share it with other professionals who are treating you.

Example: A doctor treating you for an injury asks another doctor about your overall health condition.

Run our organization

We can use and share your health information to run our practice, improve your care, and contact you when necessary.

Example: We use health information about you to manage your treatment and services.

Bill for your services

We can use and share your health information to bill and get payment from health plans or other entities.

Example: We give information about you to your health insurance plan so it will pay for your services.


How else can we use or share your health information?

We are allowed or required to share your information in other ways – usually in ways that contribute to the public good, such as public health and research. We have to meet many conditions in the law before we can share your information for these purposes. For more information see: www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/consumers/index.html.

Help with public health and safety issues

We can share health information about you for certain situations such as:

  • Preventing disease
  • Helping with product recalls
  • Reporting adverse reactions to medications
  • Reporting suspected abuse, neglect, or domestic violence
  • Preventing or reducing a serious threat to anyone’s health or safety

Do research

We can use or share your information for health research.

Comply with the law

We will share information about you if state or federal laws require it, including with the Department of Health and Human Services if it wants to see that we’re complying with federal privacy law.

Respond to organ and tissue donation requests

We can share health information about you with organ procurement organizations.

Work with a medical examiner or funeral director

We can share health information with a coroner, medical examiner, or funeral director when an individual dies.

Address workers’ compensation, law enforcement, and other government requests

We can use or share health information about you:

  • For workers’ compensation claims
  • For law enforcement purposes or with a law enforcement official
  • With health oversight agencies for activities authorized by law
  • For special government functions such as military, national security, and presidential protective services

Respond to lawsuits and legal actions

We can share health information about you in response to a court or administrative order, or in response to a subpoena.


Our Responsibilities
  • We are required by law to maintain the privacy and security of your protected health information.
  • We will let you know promptly if a breach occurs that may have compromised the privacy or security of your information.
  • We must follow the duties and privacy practices described in this notice and give you a copy of it.
  • We will not use or share your information other than as described here unless you tell us we can in writing. If you tell us we can, you may change your mind at any time. Let us know in writing if you change your mind.

For more information see: www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/consumers/noticepp.html.


Changes to the Terms of this Notice
We can change the terms of this notice, and the changes will apply to all information we have about you. The new notice will be available upon request, in our office, and on our web site.

Other Instructions for Notice
  • Effective Date of this Notice is November 17, 2014
  • Privacy Officer: Wanda Lingner. Email contact: privacyofficer@texasent.com. Phone number: 281-897-0416 x 21169.
  • Texas ENT Specialists conforms to the requirements outlined by HIPAA; as well as the Texas Medical Privacy Law when it defines restrictions with greater limits than HIPAA.

Requested Restrictions

You may request that we restrict or limit how your protected health information is used or disclosed for treatment, payment, or healthcare operations.  We do NOT have to agree to this restriction, but if we do agree, we will comply with your request except under emergency circumstances.

To request a restriction, submit the following in writing:  (a) The information to be restricted, (b) what kind of restriction you are requesting (i.e. on the use of information, disclosure of information or both), and (c) to whom the limits apply.  Please send the request to the address and person listed below.

 You may also request that we limit disclosure to family members, other relatives, or close personal friends that may or may not be involved in your care.

Receiving Confidential Communications by Alternative Means

You may request that we send communications of protected health information by alternative means or to an alternative location.  This request must be made in writing to the person listed below.  We are required to accommodate only reasonable requests.  Please specify in your correspondence exactly how you want us to communicate with you and, if you are directing us to send it to a particular place, the contact/address information.

Inspection and Copies of Protected Health Information

You may inspect and/or copy health information that is within the designated record set, which is information that is used to make decisions about your care.  Texas law requires that requests for copies be made in writing and we ask that requests for inspection of your health information also be made in writing.  Please send your request to the person listed below.

We can refuse to provide some of the information you ask to inspect or ask to be copied if the information:

  • Includes psychotherapy notes.
  • Includes the identity of a person who provided information if it was obtained under a promise of confidentiality.
  • Is subject to the Clinical Laboratory Improvements Amendments of 1988.
  • Has been compiled in anticipation of litigation.

We can refuse to provide access to or copies of some information for other reasons, provided that we provide a review of our decision on your request.  Another licensed health care provider who was not involved in the prior decision to deny access will make any such review.

Texas law requires that we are ready to provide copies or a narrative within 15 days of your request.  We will inform you of when the records are ready or if we believe access should be limited.  If we deny access, we will inform you in writing.

HIPAA permits us to charge a reasonable cost based fee.  The Texas State Board of Medical Examiners (TSBME) has set limits on fees for copies of medical records that under some circumstances may be lower than the charges permitted by HIPAA.  In any event, the lower of the fee permitted by HIPAA or the fee permitted by the TSBME will be charged.


Amendment of Medical Information

You may request an amendment of your medical information in the designated record set.  Any such request must be made in writing to the person listed below.  We will respond within 60 days of your request.  We may refuse to allow an amendment if the information:

  • Wasn’t created by this practice or the physicians here in this practice.
  • Is not part of the Designated Record Set.
  • Is not available for inspection because of an appropriate denial.
  • If the information is accurate and complete.

Even if we refuse to allow an amendment you are permitted to include a patient statement about the information at issue in your medical record.  If we refuse to allow an amendment we will inform you in writing.  If we approve the amendment, we will inform you in writing, allow the amendment to be made and tell others that we know have the incorrect information.

Accounting of Certain Disclosures

The HIPAA privacy regulations permit you to request, and us to provide, an accounting of disclosures that are other than for treatment, payment, health care operations, or made via an authorization signed by you or your representative.  Please submit any request for an accounting to the person listed below.  Your first accounting of disclosures (within a 12 month period) will be free.  For additional requests within that period we are permitted to charge for the cost of providing the list.  If there is a charge we will notify you and you may choose to withdraw or modify your request before any costs are incurred.

Appointment Reminders, Treatment Alternatives, and Other Health-related Benefits

We may contact you by telephone, mail, or both to provide appointment reminders, financial obligation information, information about treatment alternatives, or other health-related benefits and services that may be of interest to you.

Complaints

If you are concerned that your privacy rights have been violated, you may contact the person listed below.  You may also send a written complaint to the United States Department of Health and Human Services.  We will not retaliate against you for filing a complaint with the government or us. The contact information for the United States Department of Health and Humans Services is:

U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services

HIPAA Complaint

7500 Security Blvd., C5-24-04

Baltimore, MD  21244

You will not be penalized for filing a complaint.


Your Rights Under Federal Privacy Regulations

The United States Department of Health and Human Services created regulations intended to protect patient privacy as required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).  Those regulations create several privileges that patients may exercise.  We will not retaliate against a patient that exercises their HIPAA rights.

Requested Restrictions

You may request that we restrict or limit how your protected health information is used or disclosed for treatment, payment, or health care operations.  We do NOT have to agree to this restriction, but if we do agree, we will comply with your request except under emergency circumstances.

To request a restriction, submit the following in writing: (a) The information to be restricted, (b) what kind of restriction you are requesting (i.e. on the use of information, disclosure of information or both), and (c) to whom the limits apply.  Please send the request to Angela Bales.

You may also request that we limit disclosure to family members, other relatives, or close personal friends that may or may not be involved in your care.

Receiving Confidential Communications by Alternate Means

You may request that we send communications or protected health information by alternative means or to an alternative locations.  This request must be made in writing to the person listed below.  We are required to accommodate only reasonable requests.  Please specify in your correspondence exactly how you want us to communicate with you, and if you are directing us to send it to a particular place, the contact/address information.

Changes to this Notice

We reserve the right to change this notice and the revised or changed notice will be effective for information we already have about you as well as any information we receive in the future. The current notice will be posted in the facility and on our website and include the effective date. In addition, each time you register at or are admitted to the facility for treatment or health care services as an inpatient or outpatient, we will offer you a copy of the current notice in effect


Our Promise to You

We are required by law and regulation to protect the privacy of your medical information, to provide you with this notice of our privacy practices with respect to protected health information, and to abide by the terms of the notice of privacy practices in effect.


Questions and Contact Person for Requests

If you have any questions or want to make a request pursuant to the rights described above, please contact:

Privacy Officer

Texas E.N.T. Specialists

10740 North Gessner Drive, Suite 310

Houston, Texas 77064

281-897-0416

281-890-8908 (fax)

privacyofficer@texasent.com

This notice is effective on the following date:  _____, 2014.

We may change our policies and this notice at any time and have those revised policies apply to all the protected health information we maintain.  If or when we change our notice, we will post the new notice in the office where it can be seen.