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Notice of Privacy Practices

THIS NOTICE DESCRIBES HOW HEALTH INFORMATION ABOUT YOU MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED AND HOW YOU CAN GET ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION. PLEASE REVIEW IT CAREFULLY.

A Caring Alternative is required by law to maintain the privacy of your health information and to provide you with notice of its legal duties and privacy practices with respect to your health information. If you have questions about any part of this notice or if you want more information about the privacy practices at A Caring Alternative, please contact us at (828) 430-4388 or (828) 437-3000.

I. How A Caring Alternative may Use or Disclose Your Health Information
A Caring Alternative collects health information about you and stores it in a medical record. We need this information to provide you with quality care and to create a record of the care and services you receive at A Caring Alternative. A Caring Alternative is committed to protecting the privacy of your health information. The law permits A Caring Alternative to use or disclose your health information for the following purposes:

1. Treatment- We may use medical information about you to provide you with medical treatment or services. We may disclose medical information about you to doctors, psychologists, pharmacists, nurses, social workers, therapists, technicians, or other personnel involved in providing services to you. Different departments of A Caring Alternative may also share medical information about you in order to coordinate the different services you need.

2. Payment- We may use and disclose medical information about you so that the treatment and services you receive at A Caring Alternative or other providers from whom you receive treatment or services, may be billed to, and payment may be collected from you, an insurance company, a third party, Medicaid or other payor. To the extent possible, our staff and outside contractors or consultants will make reasonable efforts to assure that the use and disclosure of your personal health information is conducted in a secure and confidential manner.

3. Regular Health Care Operations- A Caring Alternative may use and disclose medical information about you for agency operations. These uses and disclosures are necessary to manage the operation and to monitor your quality of care. For example, we may use personal health information to evaluate our agency’s services, including the performance of our staff. We may also use personal health information for training purposes or to develop new policies, procedures, or programs that may benefit you or other individuals we support. Your medical information may be shared with survey reviewers and other accreditation bodies in accordance with current and on-going operating procedures.

4. Information provided to you.

5. Notification and communication with family- We may disclose your health information to notify or assist in notifying a family member, your personal representative or another person responsible for your care about your location, your general condition or in the event of your death. If you are able and available to agree or object, we will give you the opportunity to do so prior to making this notification. If you are unable or unavailable to agree or object, our health professionals will use their best judgment in communication with your family and others.

6. Required by law- As required by law, we may use and disclose your health information as described below:

a. Public health. We may disclose your health information to public health authorities for purposes related to: preventing or controlling disease, injury or disability; reporting child abuse or neglect; reporting domestic violence; reporting to the Food and Drug Administration problems with products and reactions to medications; and reporting disease or infection exposure.

b. Health oversight activities. We may disclose your health information to health agencies during the course of audits, investigations, inspections, licensure and other proceedings. We may collect and share your health information for the purpose of oversight and evaluation of the quality and effectiveness of services through the use of NC-TOPPS.

c. Judicial and administrative proceedings. We may disclose your health information in the course of any administrative or judicial proceeding as required by a court order or subpoena.

d. Law enforcement. We may disclose your health information to a law enforcement official for purposes such as identifying or locating a suspect, fugitive, material witness or missing person, complying with a court order or subpoena and other law enforcement purposes.

e. Deceased person information. We may disclose your health information to coroners, medical examiners and funeral directors.

f. Public safety. We may disclose your health information to appropriate persons in order to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the health or safety of a particular person or the general public.

g. Specialized government functions. We may disclose your health information for military, national security, and prisoner purposes.

h. Worker’s compensation. We may disclose your health information as necessary to comply with worker’s compensation laws.
Only the minimum necessary health information will be disclosed to accomplish the above
purposes.
If N.C. state law materially limits or prohibits any of the uses and disclosures described above, each such use and disclosure described above must reflect the more stringent law.

II. When A Caring Alternative May Not Use or Disclose Your Health Information
Except as previously described in this Notice of Privacy Practices, A Caring Alternative will not use or disclose your health information without your written authorization. For example, authorizations shall be required in the following circumstances: for research and marketing, for disclosure to a third party (i.e., an attorney, a medical representative, etc.). Other uses when an authorization would be required, for example, include information sent to an employer and information sent to a business associate that is not involved with Treatment, Payment, or Operations. If you do authorize A Caring Alternative to use or disclose your health information for another purpose, you may revoke your authorization in writing at any time.

III. Other important facts related to the privacy and security of your health information

1. A Caring Alternative shall agree to an individual’s request to restrict disclosure of protected health information (PHI) to a health plan if (a) the PHI pertains solely to health care for which the individual (or person on behalf of the individual other than health plan) has paid the covered entity in full out of pocket and (b) the disclosure is not required by other law. Note: For a restriction on follow-up care, the individual must pay out of pocket and request a restriction for the follow-up care.
 
2. Electronic access

a. If an individual requests an e-copy of PHI maintained electronically in the designated record set, A Caring Alternative shall provide access in the electronic form/format requested, if readily producible, otherwise in a readable electronic form/format as agreed to by A Caring Alternative and the individual.

i. A Caring Alternative must produce some form of e-copy
ii. A Caring Alternative may provide a hard copy if the individual declines to accept any of the electronic forms available

b. A Caring Alternative may charge for:

i. Labor for copying – time attributable to reviewing the request and producing a copy
ii. Cost of electronic media – CD, USB drive, or similar portable media/device, if the individual requests the copy on portable media

c. A Caring Alternative shall have 30 days (with one 30 day extension) to act on a request for access

3. If requested, A Caring Alternative shall transmit a copy of PHI to an individual’s designee (not limited to electronic access). The request must be in writing and signed and it must clearly identify the designated person and where to send the information.
 
4. Per the HIPAA Privacy Rule, psychotherapy notes are exempted from the right of access.
 
5. Breach Notification

a. A ‘breach” means the acquisition, access, use, or disclosure of PHI in a manner not permitted which compromises the security or privacy of the protected health information.
b. If a breach is discovered by A Caring Alternative, the agency shall complete a Risk Assessment to evaluate the overall probability that the PHI has been compromised.
c. If the evaluation of the factors fails to demonstrate a low probability that PHI has been compromised, breach notification is required.

IV. Your Health Information Rights

1. You have the right to request restrictions on certain uses and disclosures of your health information. A Caring Alternative is not required to agree to the restriction that you requested. We ask that such requests be made in writing. Appropriate forms may be obtained from A Caring Alternative’s contact person listed below.

2. You have the right to inspect and copy your health information.

3. You have a right to request that A Caring Alternative amend your health information that is incorrect or incomplete. A Caring Alternative is not required to change your health information and will provide you with information if A Caring Alternative denies your request and how you may request a review of this decision. We ask that such requests be made in writing. Appropriate forms may be obtained from A Caring Alternative’s contact person listed below.

4. You have a right to receive an accounting of disclosures of your health information made by A Caring Alternative, except that A Caring Alternative does not have to account for the disclosures described in parts 1 (treatment), 2 (payment), 3 (health care operations), 4 (information provided to you), and 6g (specialized government functions) of section I of this Notice of Privacy Practices.

5. You have a right to a paper copy of this Notice of Privacy Practices. If you would like to have a more detailed explanation of these rights or if you would like to exercise one or more of these rights, contact: A Caring Alternative Quality Management Director (828) 430-4388 ext. 22

V. Changes to this Notice of Privacy Practices
A Caring Alternative reserves the right to amend this Notice of Privacy Practices at any time in the future, and to make the new provisions effective for all information that it maintains, including information that was created or received prior to the date of such amendment. Until such amendment is made, A Caring Alternative is required by law to comply with this Notice. Revised notices will be communicated through publications, meetings, mailings, posting to the agency website or other distribution channels.

VI. Complaints
Complaints about this Notice of Privacy Practices or how A Caring Alternative’s handles your health information must be in writing and directed to:

A Caring Alternative, Quality Management Director (828) 430-4388 ext. 22
 
A Caring Alternative
617 South Green St. Suite 300
Morganton, NC 28655

If you are not satisfied with the manner in which this office handles a complaint, you may submit a formal complaint to:

Department of Health and Human Services
Office of Civil Rights
Hubert H. Humphrey Bldg.
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Room 509F HHH Building
Washington, DC 20201

You may also address your compliant to one of the regional Offices for Civil Rights. A list of these offices can be found online at http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/regmail.html.

I understand that I may contact A Caring Alternative in the event that I have any questions about the Notice or if I have any concerns regarding the use or disclosure of my personal health information.
 

         
         
         
 
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Morganton Phone: (828) 437-3000, Fax: (828) 437-4999 | Marion Phone: (828) 652-5444, Fax: (828) 652-5837