Notice of Privacy Practices
Effective April 1, 2002; Revised April 14, 2003; May 15, 2003; August 28, 2006;
This Notice Describes How Medical Information About You May Be Used And Disclosed And How You Can Access This Information. Please Review It Carefully. This Notice of Privacy Practices describes how we may use and disclose your protected health information in order to carry out treatment, payment, and healthcare operations and for other purposes permitted or required by law. It also describes your rights to access and control your PHI.
- I. We Have A Legal Duty To Safeguard Your Protected Health Information (PHI). Pathology Service Associates, LLC (PSA), as a pathology billing service, is required to protect the privacy of health care information that may identify you. This “protected health information” (PHI) includes information that we collect or receive about your past, present or future health condition, the health care services provided to you, payment history associated with these health care services and other related information associated with health care operations. We are also required by law to provide you with this notice about our privacy practices in order to explain how, when and why we use and disclose your PHI. With some exceptions, we may not use or disclose any more of your PHI than is necessary to accomplish the purpose of the use or disclosure. We are legally required to follow the privacy practices that are described in this notice. PSA reserves the right to change our privacy practices and the terms of this Notice at any time, and to make any such changes effective for all PHI that is in our possession at the time of the change as well as any received thereafter. Copies of this any revised Notice will be made available to you upon request, and you may always view the current Notice on our Website at www.pathologybilling.com.
- II. How We May Use And Disclose Your Protected Health Information. We use and disclose health information for many different reasons. Some of these uses or disclosures are permitted by law without your authorization, while others may require your written authorization prior to release. We have described several different types of uses and disclosures below, along with some examples of each category.
- A. Uses and Disclosures relating to Treatment, Payment or Healthcare Operations (TPO).
We are permitted by law to use and disclose your PHI without your written consent or authorization for the following reasons:
- 1. Treatment. We may disclose your PHI to physicians, nurses, medical students and other healthcare personnel who provide you with healthcare services or are involved in your care. For example, if you are being treated for cancer, we may disclose your PHI to the consulting physician, e.g., oncologist, if applicable, in order to coordinate your care.
- 2. Payment. We may use and disclose your PHI in order to bill and collect payment for the treatment and services provided to you. For example, the pathologist may provide portions of your PHI to our billing department, as his/her billing agent, and to your health plan to obtain payment for the healthcare services, which were provided to you by the pathologist of record. We may also provide your PHI to our business associates, such as claims processing centers (clearinghouses) and others that process pathologist's healthcare claims.
- 3. Healthcare operations. We may disclose your PHI for healthcare operations. For example, we may use your PHI in order to evaluate the quality of healthcare services that you received or to evaluate the performance of the healthcare professionals who provided healthcare services to you. This task may be strictly accomplished from a review of the submitted documentation. We may also provide your PHI to our accountants, attorneys, consultants and others to confirm that we are complying with the laws that affect us.
- B. Additional Uses and Disclosures That Do Not Require Your Authorization. We may also use and disclose your PHI without your authorization for the following reasons:
- 1. When required by federal, state or local law, judicial or administrative proceedings, or law enforcement. For example, we make disclosures when a law requires that we report information to the government agencies and law enforcement personnel about victims of abuse, neglect or domestic violence; when dealing with gunshot or wounds; or when ordered in a judicial or administrative proceeding.
- 2. For public health activities. For example, we assist and provide data for reporting information about various diseases, e.g., Cancer Registry, to the government officials in charge of collecting that information, and we provide additional information to other agencies regarding specific public health issues.
- 3. For health oversight activities. For example, we will provide information to assist the government when it conducts an investigation or inspection of a healthcare provider or organization. <.li>
- 4. For purposes of organ donation. Upon the request of the hospital facility, the pathologist may notify organ procurement organizations to assist him/her in organ, eye or tissue donation and transplants.
- 5.For research purposes. In certain circumstances, upon the request of the pathologist, we may provide PHI in order to conduct medical research.
- 6. To avoid harm. In order to avoid a serious threat to the health or safety of a person or the public, we may provide PHI to law enforcement personnel or persons able to prevent or lessen such harm.
- 7. For specific government functions. PSA may disclose PHI of military personnel and veterans in certain situations. And, we may disclose PHI for national security purposes, such as protecting the President of the United States or conducting intelligence operations.
- 8. For workers' compensation purposes. We may provide PHI in order to comply with workers' compensation laws.
- C. Uses and Disclosures for Which You Have the Opportunity to Object. We may share your PHI with a family member, friend or other person that you indicate is involved in your care or the payment for your healthcare, unless you object in whole or in part. The opportunity to authorize may be obtained retroactively in emergency situations.
- D. Uses and Disclosures That Require Your Prior Written Authorization. In any other situation not described in Sections II.A, II.B and II.C of this Notice, we will require your written authorization before using or disclosing any of your PHI. If you authorize us to use or disclose your PHI, you may later revoke that authorization in writing at any time. If you revoke your authorization, we will no longer use or disclose your PHI for any of the reasons that may have been covered by your written authorization; however, you understand that we are unable to take back any disclosures which may already have been made with your authorization.
- III. What Rights You Have Regarding Your PHI
You have the following rights with respect to your PHI:
- 1. The right to request restrictions or limitations on Uses and Disclosures of your PHI. You have the right to request that we restrict or limit how we use and disclose your PHI. Your request must be in writing and must explain what information you want to limit and to whom the limits are to apply. You may not however limit the uses and disclosures that we are legally required or allowed to make. We will consider your request, but we are not required to agree to such requests. If we do agree, we will comply with the requested limits except in emergency situations.
- 2. The right to choose how we send PHI to you. You have the right to ask that we send information to you in a certain way or at a certain location. For example, you may want us to send information to you at your work address instead of your home address. Your request must be made in writing, and we will agree to it as long as we can easily provide it in the manner you requested.
- 3. The right to inspect and obtain copies of your PHI. In most cases, you have the right to inspect or obtain copies of your PHI that are in our possession, but you must make this request in writing. If we do not have your PHI, but we know who does, we will inform you of the manner in which to obtain it. We will respond to you within 30 days after receiving your written request. In certain situations, we may deny your request. If we do, we will inform you, in writing, of our reasons for the denial and explain your right to have the denial reviewed.
If you request copies of your PHI, we may charge you. Instead of providing the PHI you requested, we might provide you with a summary or explanation of the PHI as long as you agree to that and to the actual cost in advance.
- 4.The right to obtain an accounting of the disclosures we have made. You have the right to obtain an accounting of instances in which we have disclosed your PHI. Your request must be made in writing and should state a specific time period to be covered (the time period requested may not be more than six (6) years and may not include dates prior to April 14, 2003).
We will respond within 60 days of receiving your written request. The list we provide may not include uses or disclosures associated with treatment, payment or healthcare operations or those made directly to you or to your family. The list also may not include uses and disclosures for which a signed authorization has been received; those made for national security purposes; or those made to corrections or law enforcement personnel. The list will include the date of the disclosure, to whom the PHI was disclosed, a description of the information disclosed and the reason for the disclosure. We will generally provide the list to you at no charge, except that if you make more than one request in the same calendar year, we may charge you for the cost of providing each additional request.
- 5. 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 we correct the existing information or add the missing information. You must provide the request and your reason for the request in writing. We will respond within 60 days of receiving your request. We may deny your request if it is not made in writing or does not include a reason to support the request, or if: 1) we believe that the information is correct and complete; 2) the information was not created by us; 3) you do not have the right to the information; or 4) the information is not part of our records. If we deny your request, our written response will state the reasons for the denial and explain your rights to file a written statement of disagreement with the denial. If we approve your request, we will make the change as requested and advise you in writing that we have done it, and we will make reasonable efforts inform others of the changes on a need-to-know basis.
- 6. The right to obtain a paper copy of this notice or by email. You have the right to obtain a copy of this notice at any time. We can send it to you electronically via email, or you may prefer to have us mail you a paper copy.
- IV. For More Information or To Report a Problem If you have any questions or complaints about our privacy practices in general or our handling of your PHI, or if you want to submit a written request to PSA as required in any of the previous sections of the Notice, please write us at the address provided below. If you believe that your privacy rights have been violated, you may also file a written complaint with the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. PSA will not take any retaliatory action against you for filing a complaint about our privacy practices. We understand that information about you and your health is personal, we respect your right to privacy, and we are committed to protecting your health information against any unlawful or otherwise improper use or disclosure.
Pathology Service Associates, LLC
P.O. Box 100559
Florence, SC 29501-0559