Notice of Privacy Practices

 

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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.

VNA Home Health Care Services (we) is required by law to maintain the privacy of your health information and to provide to you or your representative this Notice of its duties and privacy practices. This Notice of Privacy Practices describes how VNA Home Health Care Services (we) may use and disclose your protected health information to carry out treatment, payment, or health care operations, and for other purposes that are permitted or required by law. 

It also describes your rights to access and control your protected health information. We are required to abide by the terms of this Notice as may be amended from time to time.  We reserve the right to change the terms of this Notice and to make the new Notice provisions effective for all health information that it maintains.  If we change this notice, we will make available a copy of the revised Notice to you or your appointed representative upon request.

“Protected health information” is information about you, including information that may identify you and that relates to your past, present, or future physical or mental health or condition and related to health care services.

USES AND DISCLOSURES

We may use or disclose your protected health information as follows:

To Provide Treatment:  We may use your health information to coordinate care within VNA and with others involved in your care, such as your attending physician and other health care professionals who have agreed to assist us in coordinating care.  For example, physicians involved in your care will need information about your symptoms in order to prescribe appropriate treatments.  We also may disclose your health care information to individuals outside of VNA involved in your care including family members, pharmacists, suppliers of medical equipment or other health care professionals.

To Obtain Payment: We may include your health information in invoices to collect payment from third parties for the care you receive from us upon your authorization obtained on the Consent Form.  For example, we may be required by your health insurer to provide information regarding your health care status so that the insurer will reimburse you or us.  We also may need to obtain prior approval from your insurer and may need to explain to the insurer your need for home care and the services that will be provided to you.

To Conduct Health Care Operations: We may use and disclose health information for our operations in order to facilitate the functions of VNA and as necessary to provide quality care to all of the VNA’s patients.  Health care operations includes such activities as: 

  • Quality assessment and improvement activities
  • Activities designed to improve health or reduce health care costs
  • Protocol development, case management and care coordination
  • Professional review and performance evaluation
  • Training programs including those in which students, trainees or practitioners in healthcare learn under supervision
  • Training of non-health care professionals
  • Accreditation, certification, licensing or credentialing activities
  • Review and auditing, including compliance reviews, medical reviews, legal services and compliance programs
  • Business and services planning and development
  • Business management and general administrative activities of VNA
  • Certain marketing activities

For example, we may use your health information to evaluate staff performance, combine your health information with other VNA patients in evaluating how to more effectively serve all VNA patients, disclose your health information to VNA staff and contracted personnel for training purposes, or contact you as part of community information mailings (unless you tell us you do not want to be contacted).

For Fundraising Activities: VNA may use information about you in order to contact you to raise money for VNA.  If you do not want us to contact you, notify our Privacy Officer and indicate that you do not wish to be contacted. 

Appointment Reminders: VNA may use and disclose your health information to contact you as a reminder that you have an appointment for a home visit.

Additional uses and disclosures include:

Required By Law: We will disclose your health information when it is required to do so by any Federal, State or local law.

Public Health and 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. We may also use and disclose medical information about you to prevent or control disease, injury, or disability, to report vital statistics such as births or deaths, and/or to report to the Food and Drug Administration for investigating or tracking problems with prescription drugs, medical devices. 

Abuse, Neglect Or Domestic Violence: We are required to notify government authorities if we believe a patient is the victim of abuse, neglect or domestic violence.  We will make this disclosure only when specifically required or authorized by law or when the patient agrees to the disclosure.

Health Oversight Activities: We may disclose your health information to a health oversight agency for activities including audits, civil administrative or criminal investigations, inspections, licensure or disciplinary action.  VNA, however, may not disclose your health information if you are the subject of an investigation and your health information is not directly related to your receipt of health care or public benefits.

Legal Proceedings, Lawsuits and Disputes: We may disclose your protected health information in response to a court or administrative order or in response to a subpoena, discovery request, or other lawful process to the extent such disclosure is expressly authorized.

Law Enforcement: We may disclose your protected health information for law enforcement purposes when applicable legal requirements are met.  These law enforcement purposes include:  (1) legal processes, as required by law, (2) identification or location of a suspect, fugitive, material witness, or missing person; (3) investigations pertaining to victims of a crime; (4) suspicion that death has occurred as a result of criminal conduct; (5) investigations of a crime that occurred on the premises of the entity; and (6) in a medical emergency (not on our premises) in which a crime may have been committed.

Coroners And Medical Examiners: We may disclose your health information to coroners and medical examiners for purposes of determining your cause of death or for other duties, as authorized by law.

Funeral Directors: We may disclose your health information to funeral directors consistent with applicable law and if necessary, to carry out their duties with respect to your funeral arrangements.  If necessary to carry out their duties, we may disclose your health information prior to and in reasonable anticipation of your death.

Organ, Eye Or Tissue Donation: If you are an organ donor, we may use or disclose your health information to organ procurement organizations or other entities engaged in the procurement, banking or transplantation of organs, eyes or tissue for the purpose of facilitating the donation and transplantation.

Research Purposes: We may, under very select circumstances, use your health information for research.  Before we disclose any of your health information for such research purposes, the project will be subject to an extensive approval process.  We will almost always request your written authorization before granting access to your individually identifiable health information.

A Serious Threat To Health Or Safety: We may, consistent with applicable law and ethical standards of conduct, disclose your health information if we, in good faith, believe that such disclosure is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to your health or safety or to the health and safety of the public.

Government Functions: In certain circumstances, the Federal regulations authorize us to use or disclose your health information to facilitate specified government functions relating to military and veterans, national security and intelligence activities, protective services for the President and others, medical suitability determinations and inmates and law enforcement custody.

Worker's Compensation: We may release your health information for worker's compensation or similar programs.

AUTHORIZATION TO USE OR DISCLOSE HEALTH INFORMATION

Other than is stated above, we will not disclose your health information other than with your written authorization.  If you or your representative authorizes us to use or disclose your health information, you may revoke that authorization in writing at any time. 

YOUR RIGHTS WITH RESPECT TO YOUR HEALTH INFORMATION

Although your health record is the physical property of VNA, your health information belongs to you.  You have the following rights regarding your health information that VNA maintains in your health record.

-          Right to request restrictions.  You may request restrictions on certain uses and disclosures of your health information.  You have the right to request a limit on VNA’s disclosure of your health information to someone who is involved in your care or the payment of your care.  However, we are not required to agree to your request.  If you wish to make a request for restrictions, please contact VNA’s Privacy Officer at the address/phone listed below.

-          Right to receive confidential communications.  You have the right to request that we communicate with you in a certain way.  For example, you may ask that we only conduct communications pertaining to your health information with you privately with no other family members present.  If you wish to receive confidential communications, please contact VNA’s Privacy Officer at the address/phone listed below. We will not request that you provide any reasons for your request and will attempt to honor your reasonable requests for confidential communications.

-          Right to inspect and copy your health information.  You have the right to inspect and copy your health information, including billing records.  A request to inspect and copy records containing your health information may be made to VNA’s Privacy Officer at the address/phone listed below.  If you request a copy of your health information, we may charge a reasonable fee for copying and assembling costs associated with your request. You may inspect your records at no cost.

-          Right to request an amendment to health care information.  You or your representative have the right to request that we amend your records, if you believe that your health information is incorrect or incomplete.  That request may be made as long as the information is maintained by VNA.  A request for an amendment of records must be made in writing to VNA’s Privacy Officer at the address/phone listed below. We may deny the request if it is not in writing or does not include a reason for the amendment.  The request also may be denied if your health information records were not created by VNA, if the records you are requesting are not part of the VNA‘s records, if the health information you wish to amend is not part of the health information you or your representative are permitted to inspect and copy, or if, in our opinion, the records containing your health information are accurate and complete.

-          Right to an accounting.  You or your representative have the right to request an accounting of disclosures of your health information made by VNA for any reason other than for treatment, payment or health operations.  The request for an accounting must be made in writing to VNA’s Privacy Officer at the address/phone listed below. The request should specify the time period for the accounting starting on or after April 14, 2003.  Accounting requests may not be made for periods of time in excess of six (6) years.  We would provide the first accounting you request during any 12-month period without charge.  Subsequent requests may be subject to a reasonable fee.

-     Right to a paper copy of this notice.  You or your representative have a right to a separate paper copy of this Notice at any time even if you or your representative have received this Notice previously.  To obtain a separate paper copy, please contact VNA’s Privacy Officer at the address or telephone number below.  You or your representative may also obtain a copy of the current version of the VNA’s Notice of Privacy Practices at our website, www.svna.org.

PRIVACY COMPLAINTS.

You or your personal representative have the right to express complaints to VNA and to the United States Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services if you or your representative believe that your privacy rights have been violated.  Any complaints to VNA should be made in writing to VNA’s Privacy Officer at the address listed below.  We encourage you to express any concerns you may have regarding the privacy of your information.  You will not be retaliated against in any way for filing a complaint. 

CONTACT PERSON

VNA has designated the VNA Privacy Officer as its contact person for all issues regarding patient privacy and your rights under the Federal privacy standards.  You may contact this person at:

VNA Home Health Care
P.O. Box 3989
Spokane, WA  99220-3989
(509) 534-4300

EFFECTIVE DATE:  This Notice is effective April 14, 2003.

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