Privacy Practices/HIPPA Information
HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, was enacted to ensure greater confidentiality of your medical information and requires that we notify you of ways in which your medical information will be used by our office. This notice is intended to inform you of your rights under HIPAA and it is to your benefit to read the following carefully.
Notice of Privacy Practices
The Allergy and Asthma Center of Austin 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 Privacy Officer, Julie Fitzgerald.
Treatment, Payment, Health Care Operations
The Allergy and Asthma Center of Austin is permitted to use and disclose your medical information to those involved in your treatment. For example, we may contact your pharmacy regarding a requested prescription. In coordinating your care, we may also send correspondence to your primary care physician regarding treatment of a condition or illness.
The Allergy and Asthma Center of Austin is permitted to use and disclose your medical information to bill and collect payment for the services provided 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. Also, we may use your information to verify benefits through your insurance company as well as assist in obtaining referrals to our physicians. Other examples include use of your information to collect on past due balances, including referring necessary information to an outside collection agency.
Health Care Operations
The Allergy and Asthma Center of Austin is permitted to use or disclose your medical information for the purposes of health care operations, which are activities that support our best efforts operationally to ensure that quality care is delivered. Healthcare operations include, but are not limited to, compliance and quality assurance, including the auditing of records.
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 you 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. 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.
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.
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 (records that originated in this office and with Allergy and Asthma Center of Austin physicians), 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:
HIPAA Inspection/Copy Request
Margaret Hill Medical Records
10801-2 North MoPac Expressway Suite 150
Austin, Texas 78759
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 upon 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 medical records contact listed above in “Inspection and Copies of Protected Health Information”. 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.
Should your request meet the criteria for permitted amendment, it is our policy to mail you a copy of your medical records, along with a blank sheet for your amendments or notes. You will then mail the copies, along with the amendments, notes, or statements, back to our office, where that information will be integrated into your permanent medical record.
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 (who have received copies of non-amended records dated on or after April 14, 2003) that we now have the correct 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 above. 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.
Policy Regarding Leaving Phone Messages and Appointment Reminders
It is the policy of the Allergy and Asthma Center of Austin to contact you by phone when the need arises. We also commonly provide appointment reminders via telephone. If you are unavailable, we will leave a message so that you may contact us. It is also our policy to be discerning and discrete without compromising the delivery of prompt, quality medical care. We may leave a message on a home answering machine, business or mobile voice mail or leave a message with an individual answering your home telephone.
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 Human Services is:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
7500 Security Blvd., C5-24-04
Baltimore, MD 21244
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 about Your Rights under Federal Privacy Regulations, Policy Regarding Leaving Phone Messages, or Complaints, please contact:
HIPAA Privacy Officer, Julie Willis
10801-2 North Mo Pac Expressway Suite 150
Austin, Texas 78759
This notice is effective April 14, 2003.
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.
(NOTICE OF PRIVACY PRAC. 04/03 Rev. 07/03, Rev 01/08)