There are some situations when we do not need your written authorization before using your health information or sharing it with others, including:
Appointment Reminders, Treatment Alternatives, Benefits and Services. In the course of providing treatment to you, we may use your health information to contact you with a reminder that you have an appointment for treatment, services or refills or in order to recommend possible treatment alternatives or health-related benefits and services that may be of interest to you.
Business Associates. We may disclose your health information to contractors, agents and other “business associates” who need the information in order to assist us with obtaining payment or carrying out our business operations. For example, we may share your health information with a billing company that helps us to obtain payment from your insurance company, or we may share your health information with an accounting firm or law firm that provides professional advice to us. Business associates are required by law to abide by the HIPAA regulations. If we do disclose your health information to a business associate, we will have a written contract to ensure that our business associate also protects the privacy of your health information. If our business associate discloses your health information to a subcontractor or vendor, the business associate will have a written contract to ensure that the subcontractor or vendor also protects the privacy of the information.
Friends and Family Designated to be Involved in Your Care. If you have not voiced an objection, we may share your health information with a family member, relative, or close personal friend who is involved in your care or payment for your care, including following your death.
Proof of Immunization. We may disclose proof of a child’s immunization to a school, about a child who is a student or prospective student of the school, as required by State or other law, if a parent, guardian, other person acting in loco parentis, or an emancipated minor, authorizes us to do so, but we do not need written authorization. The authorization may be oral.
Emergencies or Public Need
a. Emergencies or as Required by Law. We may use or disclose your health information if you need emergency treatment or if we are required by law to treat you. We may use or disclose your health information if we are required by law to do so, and we will notify you of these uses and disclosures if notice is required by law.
b. Public Health Activities. We may disclose your health information to authorized public health officials (or a foreign government agency collaborating with such officials) so they may carry out their public health activities under law, such as controlling disease or public health hazards. We may also disclose your health information to a person who may have been exposed to a communicable disease or be at risk for contracting or spreading the disease if permitted by law. We may disclose a child’s proof of immunization to a school, if required by State or other law, if we obtain and document the agreement for disclosure (which may be oral) from the parent, guardian, person acting in loco parentis, an emancipated minor or an adult. And finally, we may release some health information about you to your employer if your employer hires us to provide you with a physical exam and we discover that you have a work related injury or disease that your employer must know about in order to comply with employment laws.
c. Victims of Abuse, Neglect or Domestic Violence. We may release your health information to a public health authority authorized to receive reports of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence.
d. Health Oversight Activities. We may release your health information to government agencies authorized to conduct audits, investigations, and inspections of our facilities. These government agencies monitor the operation of the health care system, government benefit programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, and compliance with government regulatory programs and civil rights laws.
e. Lawsuits and Disputes. We may disclose your health information if we are ordered to do so by a court or administrative tribunal that is handling a lawsuit or other dispute. We may also disclose your information in response to a subpoena, discovery request, or other lawful request by someone else involved in the dispute, but only if required judicial or other approval or necessary authorization is obtained.
f. Law Enforcement. We may disclose your health information to law enforcement officials for certain reasons, such as complying with court orders, assisting in the identification of fugitives or the location of missing persons, if we suspect that your death resulted from a crime, or if necessary, to report a crime that occurred on our property or off-site in a medical emergency.
g. To Avert a Serious and Imminent Threat to Health or Safety. We may use your health information or share it with others when necessary to prevent a serious and imminent threat to your health or safety, or the health or safety of another person or the public. In such cases, we will only share your information with someone able to help prevent the threat. We may also disclose your health information to law enforcement officers if you tell us that you participated in a violent crime that may have caused serious physical harm to another person (unless you admitted that fact while in counseling), or if we determine that you escaped from lawful custody (such as a prison or mental health institution).
h. National Security and Intelligence Activities or Protective Services. We may disclose your health information to authorized federal officials who are conducting national security and intelligence activities or providing protective services to the President or other important officials.
i. Military and Veterans. If you are in the Armed Forces, we may disclose health information about you to appropriate military command authorities for activities they deem necessary to carry out their military mission. We may also release health information about foreign military personnel to the appropriate foreign military authority.
j. Inmates and Correctional Institutions. If you are an inmate or you are detained by a law enforcement officer, we may disclose your health information to the prison officers or law enforcement officers if necessary to provide you with health care, or to maintain safety, security and good order at the place where you are confined. This includes sharing information that is necessary to protect the health and safety of other inmates or persons involved in supervising or transporting inmates.
k. Workers’ Compensation. We may disclose your health information for workers’ compensation or similar programs that provide benefits for work-related injuries.
l. Coroners, Medical Examiners, and Funeral Directors. In the event of your death, we may disclose your health information to a coroner or medical examiner. We may also release this information to funeral directors as necessary to carry out their duties.
m. Organ and Tissue Donation. In the event of your death or impending death, we may disclose your health information to organizations that procure or store organs, eyes, or other tissues so that these organizations may investigate whether donation or transplantation is possible under applicable laws.
Completely De-identified or Partially De-identified Information. We may use and disclose your health information if we have removed any information that has the potential to identify you so that the health information is “completely de-identified.” We may also use and disclose “partially de-identified” health information about you if the person who will receive the information signs an agreement to protect the privacy of the information as required by federal and state law. Partially de-identified health information will not contain any information that would directly identify you (such as your name, street address, social security number, phone number, fax number, electronic mail address, website address, or license number).
Incidental Disclosures. While we will take reasonable steps to safeguard the privacy of your health information, certain disclosures of your health information may occur during or as an unavoidable result of our otherwise permissible uses or disclosures of your health information. For example, during the course of a treatment session, other patients in the treatment area may see, or overhear discussion of, your health information.
Fundraising. We may use or disclose your demographic information, including, name, address, other contact information, age, gender, and date of birth, dates of health service information, department of service information, treating physician, outcome information, and health insurance status for fundraising purposes. With each fundraising communication made to you, you will have the opportunity to opt-out of receiving any further fundraising communications. We will also provide you with an opportunity to opt back in to receive such communications if you should choose to do so.
Research. Under certain circumstances, we may use and disclose Protected Health Information for research purposes. For example, we may disclose your information to researchers preparing to conduct an investigation to help them look for patients with specific medical conditions.
Changes to This Notice. We reserve the right to change this notice at any time and to make the revised or changed notice effective in the future.