NOTICE OF PRIVACY PRACTICES
All of your health information is protected under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and other laws. This notice describes how Psychological and Medical information about you may be used and disclosed and how you can get access to this information. Please review it carefully.
How we use and disclose your health information
We may use your health information for the following purposes:
Treatment: We use your health information for diagnosis, treatment planning, and the treatment itself. As part of that process, we may provide information to other professionals, such as another psychiatrist, your family physician or PCP, and their staff.
Health Care Operations: We use your information for administrative purposes like contacting you about appointment scheduling.
Payment: We use your information for billing and collection of payment for the services we provide you. If you wish to use insurance, you will need to sign a consent form which permits us to share any necessary information with our billing service and your insurance provider(s), all of whom are also bound by the terms of HIPAA. This information generally includes a diagnosis code, and may include information about symptoms, functional status, risk behaviors, etc.
Disclosures Requiring Authorization: We may use or disclose Protected Health Information (PHI) for purposes outside of treatment, payment, and health care operations when your appropriate authorization is obtained. An “authorization” is written permission above and beyond the general consent that permits only the specific disclosures described above. In those instances when we are asked for information for purposes outside of treatment, payment and health care operations, we will obtain an authorization from you before releasing this information. We will also need to obtain an authorization before releasing your psychotherapy notes. Psychotherapy notes are notes we have made about our conversations during private sessions, which are kept separate from the rest of your medical record. These notes are given a greater degree of protection than PHI. You may revoke all such authorizations (of PHI or psychotherapy notes) at any time, provided each revocation is in writing. You may not revoke an authorization to the extent that (1) we have relied on that authorization; or (2) if the authorization was obtained as a condition of obtaining insurance coverage, and the law provides the insurer the right to contest the claim under the policy.
Uses and Disclosures with Neither Consent nor Authorization We may use or disclose PHI without your consent or authorization in the following circumstances:
- Child Abuse: We are mandated reporters of child abuse which means if we have reasonable cause to believe that a minor child is suffering physical or emotional injury resulting from abuse inflicted upon him or her which causes harm or substantial risk of harm to the child’s health or welfare (including sexual abuse), or from neglect, including malnutrition, we must immediately report such condition to the Massachusetts Department of Social Services.
- Adult and Domestic Abuse: If we have reasonable cause to believe that an elderly person (age 60 or older) is suffering from or has died as a result of abuse, we must immediately make a report to the Massachusetts Department of Elder Affairs.
- Health Oversight: The Board of Registration of Psychologists has the power, when necessary, to subpoena relevant records should we be the focus of an inquiry.
- Judicial or Administrative Proceedings: If you are involved in a court proceeding and a request is made for information about your diagnosis and treatment and the records thereof, such information is privileged under state law and we will not release information without written authorization from you or your legally-appointed representative, or a court order. The privilege does not apply when you are being evaluated for a third party or where the evaluation is court-ordered. You will be informed in advance if this is the case.
- Serious Threat to Health or Safety: If you communicate to us an explicit threat to kill or inflict serious bodily injury upon an identified person and you have the apparent intent and ability to carry out the threat, we must take reasonable precautions. Reasonable precautions may include warning the potential victim, notifying law enforcement, or arranging for your hospitalization. We must also do so if we know you have a history of physical violence and we believe there is a clear and present danger that you will attempt to kill or inflict bodily injury upon an identified person. Furthermore, if you present a clear and present danger to yourself and refuse to accept further appropriate treatment, and we have a reasonable basis to believe that you can be committed to a hospital, we must seek said commitment and may contact members of your family or other individuals if it would assist in protecting you.
- Worker’s Compensation: If you file a workers’ compensation claim, your records relevant to that claim will not be confidential to entities such as your employer, the insurer and the Division of Worker’s Compensation.
Patient Rights and Psychiatrist’s Duties
Under HIPAA, you have the following rights regarding health information we maintain about you:
Right to Inspect and Copy: You have the right to inspect and copy your health information, such as medical and billing records. You do not have the right to inspect and copy psychotherapy notes, though we will attempt to accommodate such a request subject to professional judgment. You do not have the right to inspect or copy information compiled by us in reasonable anticipation of, or for use in, a civil, criminal, or administrative action or proceeding.
Right to an Accounting of Disclosures: You have the right to a list of the disclosures we have made of clinical information about you for purposes other than treatment, payment, and health care operations.
Right to Request Restrictions: You have the right to request a restriction or limitation on the health information we use or disclose about you for treatment, payment, or health care operations. You also have the right to request a limit on the health information we disclose about you to someone who is involved in your care or the payment for it. Although we are not required under HIPAA to agree to all such requests, we are generally able to do so, except in cases where emergency treatment demands otherwise.
Right to Amend: If you believe that clinical or billing information we have about you is incorrect or incomplete, you can request that we change the information. If we accept the request, we will make reasonable efforts to inform others of the correction, as appropriate. If we deny the request, we will provide you with an explanation, and you may respond with a statement of disagreement that will be added to the information you wanted changed.
Right to Receive Confidential Communication by Alternative Means and at Alternative Locations: At your request, we can send correspondence, billing, etc to an alternative address or contact you at a phone number or email address specified by you to maintain your privacy.
Psychiatrists have the following duties under HIPPA:
- We are required by law to maintain the privacy of PHI and to provide you with a notice of our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to PHI.
- We reserve the right to change the privacy policies and practices described in this notice, however we are required to notify you of any such changes before these changes become effective.
- If we revise our policies and procedures we will notify you in writing at our next scheduled appointment and/or by mail.
Questions and Complaints
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about our privacy practices, please speak to us, or contact us by mail, telephone, or email as listed below.
If you are not satisfied by our response to a complaint, you can contact the Department of Health and Human Services (www.hhs.gov/ocr). Or you may send a written complaint to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The organization listed above can provide you with the appropriate address upon request.
HIPAA specifically forbids any sort of penalty or repercussion for filing a complaint.