THIS NOTICE DESCRIBES HOW MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED, AND HOW YOU CAN ACCESS THIS INFORMATION. PLEASE REVIEW CAREFULLY.
I. WHO WE ARE
This notice describes the privacy practices of Care New England Health System and its affiliates that make up Care New England Health System. The entities that make up Care New England Health System include, but are not limited to: Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, Butler Hospital, Kent Hospital, VNA of Care New England, HealthTouch, Inc., and Care New England Wellness Centers, LLC. This notice also describes the privacy practices that apply to some health care professionals and other persons, such as doctors and nurses and their support personnel, when they are providing services together with the Care New England entities. In certain circumstances, however, you will also receive a separate notice from your individual health care professional describing his or her own privacy practices.
II. WE HAVE A LEGAL DUTY TO SAFEGUARD YOUR PROTECTED HEALTH INFORMATION (PHI)
This notice explains how we use and share your protected health information (PHI). We are required by law to protect the privacy of PHI and to follow the privacy practices described in this notice. Special privacy obligations, described in Section V.B., apply to certain types of PHI.
PHI includes information that we create or receive about your past, present, or future health condition, the provision of health care to you, or the payment for health care provided to you. In general, we may not use or share any more PHI than is necessary to accomplish our purpose.
We may change the terms of this notice and our privacy policies at any time. Any change will apply to the PHI we already have. When we change our policies, we will promptly change this notice and post it prominently at the sites, and on the websites, of each Care New England affiliate where health care services are provided and on our Care New England website at www.carenewengland.org.
III. HOW WE MAY USE AND SHARE YOUR PHI
We use and share PHI for many different reasons. In certain situations, which are described in Section V.A. below, your written authorization must be obtained in order to use and/or disclose your PHI. However, your authorization is not required for the following uses and disclosures:
A. Use of PHI for treatment, payment, or health care operations. We may use and share PHI for the following reasons:
1. For treatment. We may use and share PHI with physicians, nurses, medical students, and others who provide you with health care services or are involved in your care. For example, if you are being treated for diabetes, we may share PHI with your primary care physician and nutritionist in order to coordinate your care.
2. For payment. We may use and share PHI in order to bill and collect payment for the treatment and services provided to you. For example, we may share PHI with your health plan to get paid for the health care services we provided to you. We may also share PHI with billing companies and companies that process our health care claims.
3. For health care operations. We may use and share PHI in order to operate our organization. For example, we may use PHI in order to evaluate the quality of health care services that you receive, or to evaluate the health care professionals who provide health care services to you. We may also share PHI with our accountants, attorneys and others in order to make sure we are complying with the laws that affect us.
B. Other uses of PHI. Subject to legal restrictions pertaining to certain Highly Confidential Information as described in Section V.B., we may also use and share your PHI for the following reasons:
1. Reports required by law. We may report PHI when the law requires us to give information to government agencies and law enforcement. For example, we may use PHI to make mandatory reports about suspected child or elderly abuse and/or neglect; when dealing with gunshot and other wounds; or when required in a legal proceeding.
2. Public health. We may report PHI about births, deaths, and infectious diseases to government officials in charge of collecting that information. We may provide PHI relating to death to coroners, medical examiners, and funeral directors.
3. Health oversight. We may report PHI to assist the government when it investigates or inspects a health care provider or organization.
4. Organ donation. We may notify organ banks to assist them in organ, eye, or tissue donation and transplants to the extent permitted by state law.
5. Research. We may use PHI in order to conduct medical research. Depending on the circumstances, state law may require us to obtain your written consent before using and disclosing your PHI for research purposes. If state law requires us to obtain your consent, we will do so before using or disclosing your PHI for research purposes.
6. To avoid harm. Consistent with state law, we may report PHI to law enforcement or other appropriate persons, in order to avoid a serious threat to the health or safety of a person or the public.
7. Other government functions. We may report PHI for certain military and veterans' activities, national security and intelligence purposes, protective services for the president of the United States, or correctional facility situations.
8. Workers' compensation. We may report PHI in order to comply with workers' compensation laws.
9. Appointment reminders and health-related benefits or services. We may use PHI to give you appointment reminders, or to give you information about treatment choices or other health care services or benefits we offer.
10. Fundraising. We may use PHI to contact you for fundraising purposes. Donations are used to expand and support the health care services and educational programs we provide to the community. If you do not wish to be contacted for donations, please notify in writing the contact person for the Care New England affiliate where you received services at the address listed in Section VIII below.
11. Legal Proceedings. We may disclose PHI pursuant to a valid court order, search warrant, and, under certain circumstances, in response to a subpoena or other discovery request.
12. For integration with affiliated health care providers. As permitted by law, we may share your PHI with health care providers who are part of the Care New England Health System.
IV. WHEN YOU MAY OBJECT TO OUR USE OF PHI
A. Patient directories. Except for Butler Hospital, the Psychiatric Care Unit at Kent Hospital and the Kent Unit at Butler, we may include your name, room number or unit, general condition, and religious affiliation in the patient directory of our hospital affiliates for use by clergy and visitors who ask for you by name. You may choose not to have this information in the patient directory of our hospital affiliates. If you choose not to have this information in the directory, the hospital staff cannot tell visitors, callers or delivery people (such as mail or flowers), that you are a patient at the hospital and, unless you give specific contact information to another person (family member, etc.) you will not receive visitors or telephone calls.
B. Disclosures to family, friends, or others. Except for certain circumstances involving Highly Confidential Information as described in Section V, we may share your PHI with a family member, friend, or other person who is involved in your care or the payment for your health care.
V. WHEN OUR USE OR DISCLOSURE OF PHI REQUIRES YOUR PRIOR WRITTEN AUTHORIZATION
A. Use or Disclosures with Your Authorization. We must ask for your written authorization for any other use or disclosure of PHI not described in the preceding sections. If you authorize us to use your PHI, you can later remove the authorization and stop any future use or disclosure of your PHI under that authorization. You can remove an authorization by written request to the contact person for the Care New England affiliate where you received services at the address listed in Section VIII below.
B. Uses and Disclosures of Your Highly Confidential Information. As discussed in Section III above, certain state and federal laws require special privacy protections for certain highly confidential information about you ("Highly Confidential Information"), including the subset of your PHI that: (1) is maintained in psychotherapy notes; (2) is about mental health services at Butler Hospital or the Kent Unit at Butler; (3) is about services for alcohol or drug abuse or addiction by substance abuse programs operated by Care New England affiliates; or, (4) is about HIV/AIDS test results. We must generally get your authorization to disclose Highly Confidential Information about you, but may disclose it without first getting your authorization in the following circumstances:
1. Psychotherapy notes. In general, we will not use or disclose information recorded by a mental health professional to document or analyze conversations with you in therapy, unless you authorize us to do so. However, we can use or disclose such PHI without your authorization for the following purposes: (1) the health professional who recorded the information can use it to treat you; (2) in limited situations, we can use or disclose the information in connection with mental health counseling training that occurs at Care New England; and, (3) we can use or disclose a patient's psychotherapy notes to defend against any legal proceeding brought by a patient. In addition, if required or permitted to do so by law, we may use or disclose PHI in connection with government investigations and health oversight activities, to coroners, medical examiners or funeral directors, or when necessary to avert a serious threat to a person or the public.
2. Mental health treatment. Information regarding your mental health treatment may be used by or disclosed to those who are providing you with treatment. It may also be disclosed to entities responsible for paying for your care, such as insurance companies, but only the amount of information necessary for payment purposes will be disclosed. If they ask and we think it is in your best interest, we may tell your lawyer, your guardian or conservator (if any), or a member of your family that you are a patient at Butler Hospital or the Kent Unit at Butler, unless you tell us not to. If you are a patient at Butler Hospital or the Kent Unit at Butler, we may tell the mental health advocate your name and when your treatment began, unless you tell us not to. Information regarding your mental health treatment may be disclosed when ordered by a court or otherwise required by law, such as reports of suspected child abuse or reports to the department of health or other regulatory agencies. We may also use or disclose mental health treatment information for purposes of program evaluation or research under limited circumstances. If you are a minor, your mental health treatment records may be released to your parent or guardian under certain circumstances. In an emergency, information regarding your mental health treatment may be used or disclosed in order to prevent someone, (including you) from, being harmed.
3. Drug and alcohol treatment records. The confidentiality of alcohol and drug abuse patient records maintained by substance abuse programs operated by Care New England affiliates is protected by federal law and regulations. Generally, we may not tell a person outside the program that you attend the program, or disclose any information identifying you as an alcohol or drug abuser unless: (1) you consent in writing; (2) the disclosure is allowed by a court order; or, (3) the disclosure is made to medical personnel in a medical emergency or to qualified personnel for research, audit, or program evaluation. Violation of the federal law and regulations by a program is a crime. Suspected violations may be reported to appropriate authorities in accordance with federal regulations. Federal law and regulations do not protect any information about a crime committed by a patient either at the program or against any person who works for the program or about any threat to commit such a crime. Federal laws and regulations do not protect any information about suspected child abuse or neglect from being reported under state law to appropriate state or local authorities. (See 42 U.S.C. 290dd-3 and 42 U.S.C. 290ee-3 for federal laws and 42 CFR part 2 for Federal regulations.)
4. HIV-related information. Results of your HIV test will generally not be disclosed without your prior written authorization. However, we may report test results without your prior authorization under certain circumstances. For example, we may disclose results to health professionals directly involved in your care, to government agencies, such as the State Department of Health or the Department of Children, Youth and Families and in other circumstances where disclosure is permitted or required by law.
VI. YOUR RIGHTS REGARDING YOUR PHI
A. Your right to request limits on our use of PHI. You may ask that we limit how we use and share your PHI. We will consider your request but are not legally required to agree to it. If we agree to your request, we will follow your limits, except in emergency situations. You cannot limit the uses and reports that we are legally required or allowed to make.
B. Your right to choose how we send PHI to you. You may ask that we send information to you at a different address (for example, to your work address rather than your home address) or by different means (for example, by e-mail instead of regular mail). We will agree to your request, as long as we can easily provide it in the way you requested.
C. Your right to view and get a copy of PHI. You may view or obtain a copy of your PHI. However, there are some circumstances in which we may deny your request. Your request must be in writing. If we do not have your PHI, but know who does, we will tell you who has it. We will reply to you within 30 days of your request. If we deny your request, we will tell you, in writing, our reasons for the denial and explain what appeal rights, you have, if any.
If you request a copy of your PHI, we may charge a fee if permitted to do so by law. Instead of providing the PHI you requested, we may offer to give you a summary or explanation of the PHI, as long as you agree to that and to the cost in advance.
D. Your right to a list of the reports we have made. You have the right to get a list of the parties to whom we have reported your PHI. Some disclosures will not be listed, however. For example, the list will not include reports for treatment, payment, or health care operations; reports you have previously authorized; reports made directly to you or some reports to your family; reports from our facility directory; reports made for national security purposes; reports to corrections or law enforcement personnel; or reports made before April 14, 2003.
We will respond to your request within 60 days. We will include the reports made in the last six years unless you request a shorter time. The list will include the date of each report, the identity of person(s) receiving the report, the type of information reported, and the reason for the report.
We will not charge you for the list. If you make more than one request in the same year, however, we may charge you a fee for each additional request. For a list, you must make a request to the contact person for the Care New England affiliate where you received services at the address listed in Section VIII below.
E. Your right to correct or update your PHI
If you feel that there is a mistake in your PHI, or that important information is missing, you may request a correction. Your request must be in writing and include a reason for the request. Your request must be made to the contact person for the Care New England affiliate where you received services at the address listed in Section VIII below.
We will respond within 60 days of your request. We may deny your request if the PHI is (1) correct and complete; (2) not created by us; (3) not allowed to be shared with you; or, (4) not in our records. If we deny your request, we will inform you of the reason for the denial. You may then file a written statement of disagreement, or you may ask that your original request and our denial be attached to all future reports of your PHI. If we agree to honor your request, we will change your PHI, inform you of the change, and tell any others who need to know about the change to your PHI.
F. Your right to a paper copy of this notice. You may ask us for a copy of this notice at any time even if you have agreed to receive the notice electronically.
VII. MINORS AND PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVES
In most situations, parents, guardians, and/or others with legal responsibilities for minors (children under 18 years of age) may exercise the rights described in this notice on behalf of the minor. However, there are situations where minors may themselves exercise the rights described in this notice and minors' parents or guardians may not.
VIII. PERSON TO CONTACT FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THIS NOTICE OR TO FILE A COMPLAINT ABOUT OUR PRIVACY PRACTICES
If you have any questions about this notice, wish to file a complaint about our privacy practices, feel that we may have violated your privacy rights, or disagree with a decision we made about access to your PHI, please contact the contact person for the Care New England affiliate where you received services at the address or telephone number below:
Director of Medical Records
345 Blackstone Blvd.
Providence, RI 02906
Telephone number: 401-455-6413
Kent Hospital and Care New England Wellness Centers, LLC
455 Toll Gate Road
Warwick, RI 02886
Telephone number: 401-736-4224
VNA of Care New England and HealthTouch, Inc.
51 Health Lane
Warwick, RI 02886
Telephone number: 401-737-6050
Women & Infants Hospital
101 Dudley Street
Providence, RI 02905
Telephone number: 401-274-1100
You also may send a written complaint to the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 200 Independence Avenue S.W., Washington, D.C. 20201. Your complaint will not alter or affect the care we provide to you.
Effective date of this notice
This notice is in effect as of June 18, 2006.