HOSPICE IN HIS CARE PRIVATE PRACTICES POLICY

Effective May 10, 2004

Hospice in His Care takes patient privacy very seriously. Our professional code of ethics guides us in keeping your health information confidential. In addition to our ethical code, there is now a federal Privacy Rule, which affords you, the patient, certain rights. You can be confident that your health information will be treated with respect.

It is our policy to give the patient a copy of our Privacy Notice before we use any health information for your treatment, payment or operations. In rare instances, this is not possible because of a medical emergency. In the event of an emergency, a licensed professional will treat you prior to sharing our Privacy Notice and you will be asked to sign receipt of the Notice as soon as is reasonable.

PERMITTED DISCLOSURES OF HEALTH INFORMATION

This privacy notice explains that we may use your health information for treatment, payment, and operations. In order to help you understand these terms, an explanation follows below, as well as other instances in which we may disclose your protected health information:

Treatment: Information about your health will be used to make treatment decisions. For instance, if you have had a serious illness or past surgeries, it is important the licensed health care professionals be aware of these facts when determining treatment for you.

Furthermore, your health information may be shared with other professionals for the purpose of improving your health care. A physician may discuss your case with a specialist, or information may be given to a pharmacy regarding your health history to ensure that medications are appropriate for you.

Payment: In order to receive payment for services rendered by Hospice in His Care from insurance companies, Medicare or Medicaid, it is necessary to share information about your health. You may request that your information is not shared with these payment sources. If you make this request, we reserve the right to refuse treatment or ask for payment in advance of treatment.

Operations: In addition to treating patients, there are other reasons why we might share your health information with other parties. Because we are continually improving our services, we routinely examine data from clinical records. Occasionally, an outside party will assist in this process. Before any outside party is employed, a business associate agreement is signed that mandates that any outside party will treat the information in the same confidential manner that Hospice in His Care expects from its own employees.

In order to maintain a current license(s) and certification, we are required to undergo periodic surveys. During these surveys, our licensing board may review your health information to determine if our treatment is appropriate.

We may also use your information to improve our efficiency. For instance, we may call your home for appointment reminders or to report to your family member or clergy. If you are uncomfortable with any of these uses of your health information please inform us. We will respect your requests unless it prevents us from delivering sound health care. You will be notified if that is the case.

Research: Occasionally, we take data about a large group of our patients and compare it to data from other organizations of similar size engaged in similar work to see how our performance compares. When we participate in this kind of research, we assign your health information a random number to protect your privacy.

Marketing: Our staff may use your information to recommend products or services that might benefit you. Also, our marketing staff may study limited health information about you to make marketing decisions. The number of patients in one zip code or the percentage of patients with a certain diagnosis may help us tailor our marketing efforts.

We do not disclose your health information, including your name or contact information to other companies wishing to sell you their products or services unless you have signed a separate form authorizing us to do so. The authorization form is very specific about how we may use your information for purposes other than treatment, payment and operations.

Legal: If a judge orders us to produce your clinical records through a court order or a subpoena, we will comply with the order. If the order is in question, we will consult our legal counsel prior to submitting your protected health information. Other requests from lawyers must be accompanied by a signed authorization from you.

If an authorized government agency involved in national security and protection requests your protected health information, it will be given to them accordingly. We will assist authorities in fraud investigations.

There may be occasions when law enforcement requires our assistance to determine the identity of a suspect, or when we believe that a crime has been committed. In these instances, limited information will be shared with the authorities.

Public Health: If we believe that you or others are in danger and disclosing your protected health information can lessen that danger, we will do so accordingly. For instance, if a medication has been recalled because it is defective, Hospice in His Care, or our agent, will release your information to other parties who require the information to resolve the situation. It is our policy to follow the guidelines relating to Reportable Diseases in the state of Louisiana.

It is our policy to report all suspected cases of abuse.

YOUR RIGHTS AS A PATIENT

The Privacy Rule affords you, the patient, the right to access your protected health information, except the contents of psychotherapy notes. You also have the right to request that your health information be amended or corrected if you believe it contains incorrect information.

In order to access your health information, you will be asked to complete a written request. Because the Privacy Rule is very specific about the contents of the request, we have prepared a form that you may use. Hospice in His Care will provide you with your information as soon as possible but generally, no later than 60 days after you make the request. A reasonable fee will be charged to cover the cost of making photocopies. Original clinical records are never removed from our office except upon court order. In those circumstances, a licensed professional will accompany the records to ensure chain of control.

In rare instances, if a licensed health professional determines that having access to your protected health information is not in your best interest; your request will be denied. In addition, if you are the patient representative of a minor child, and we believe that abuse or neglect has occurred, we may deny your request. If your request is denied, you will receive a written notice of the decision to deny your request.

You have the right to appeal any denial we issue to you. An independent licensed health care professional will be consulted to make a final determination.

Should you wish to have your protected health information changed, you will be required to make the request in writing with an explanation of why you believe your clinical record is in error. Because the written request has specific requirements specified in the Privacy Rule, we have prepared a form that you may use. If our licensed health professionals agree with your assessment, your clinical record will be amended promptly. If our licensed health professionals do not believe that it is ethical or accurate to change your health records, you will be notified in writing. Both the original request to change your record, stating your disagreement with the medical record, as well as our written response will be placed in your clinical record.

If you wish to appeal a denied request to amend your health information, you may do so in writing. A licensed health professional will be employed to make the final determination.

Hospice in His Care records all requests for written information. Upon request, we will supply you with a list or summary of all instances when we shared your written information with others unless you have previously authorized us to share information with a third party.

You have the right to request restrictions on how we disclose your information. For instance, some patients do not want Hospice in His Care to leave telephone messages at their residence because of privacy concerns. We will comply with your request to the extent that it does not interfere with treatment, payment, or operations.

You have the right to review our privacy policy at any time you request. If changes are made to our policy, we will notify you accordingly.

IF YOU FEEL YOUR RIGHTS HAVE BEEN VIOLATED

Patients have the right to file a complaint with us or the Secretary of Health and Human Services if they feel that the rights afforded them under the Privacy Act have been violated. Patients are never penalized for filing a complaint.

At Hospice in His Care, we have appointed a HIPAA officer who has extensive education in the Privacy Act. Our HIPAA officer is available to review your complaints or simply answer questions about your patient rights.

To file a complaint with us, please put your concerns in writing and send them to:

Hospice in His Care
3233 South Sherwood Forest Blvd., Suite 102
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70816
ATTN: HIPAA Officer


If you require assistance in preparing a written complaint and are comfortable in asking our staff for assistance, we will gladly help.