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Privacy Policy

WE ARE COMMITTED TO PROTECTING THE PRIVACY OF YOUR HEALTH INFORMATION. THIS NOTICE DESCRIBES HOW MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU MAY BE USED AND IS CLOSED AND HOW YOU CAN GET ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION. PLEASE REVIEW IT CAREFULLY.

WHO WILL FOLLOW THIS NOTICE

We provide services to our patients in partnership with other healthcare professionals. This Notice applies to the following entities collectively known as “Mission Health” (MH); and their associated clinics, departments, programs and services providing care at all of their delivery sites: Mission Hospital, Blue Ridge Regional Hospital, McDowell Hospital, Transylvania Regional Hospital, Angel Medical Center, Highlands-Cashiers Hospital, CarePartners Health Services, Hope Women’s Specialty Center, Western Carolina Women’s Specialty Center, Regional Surgical Services. In addition, Mission Medical Associates, the physician group practice of Mission Health, which is comprised of various physician practice specialties, shall follow this notice.

This Notice applies to the healthcare professionals and others who may be involved directly or indirectly in your care such as employees, physicians, allied health professionals such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners, residents, students, volunteers, business associates and others affiliated with Mission Health and its partnerships. Mission Health participates in organized health care arrangements with our medical staff. This means that your medical information may be shared as necessary for treatment, payment and health care operations relating to the organized health care arrangement. Physicians may be employed by us or provide care as an independent provider. This Notice serves as a Notice of Privacy Practices for our medical staff while they are providing services within the facilities of Mission Health. Other non-Mission Health caregivers may also give you their notices which will describe their privacy practices.

OUR PLEDGE TO YOU

We are committed to maintaining the confidentiality of your medical information. We create a record of the care and services provided to you; and use this record to provide the highest quality of care to you while complying with state and federal requirements. The information created about you is called “protected health information” or “PHI”. This notice applies to all of the records that we maintain. This notice will explain how we may use and disclose your PHI; and describes your rights regarding such information. We are required by law to make sure that medical information that identifies you is safeguarded; to give you our Notice of Privacy Practices; and to follow the terms of the current notice.

HOW YOUR INFORMATION MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED

The following paragraphs describe ways we may use and disclose health information. We have provided explanations and examples to better help understand. Mission participates in an electronic health information exchange which allows the sharing of your information for appropriate purposes. Your information will be included in this electronic network unless you choose to opt out.

Treatment: We may use your medical information to provide treatment and services. We may disclose your medical information to doctors, nurses, technicians, medical students and other personnel involved in your care. For example, a doctor treating you for a broken leg may need to know if you have diabetes. The doctor may need to tell the dietitian to insure you receive the appropriate meals.

Payment: We may use and disclose your medical information to obtain payment for services. For example, we may tell your health plan about services you received so they can provide payment. We may tell your health plan about a treatment you need to obtain prior approval. We may give limited information to someone who helps to pay for your care. You have the right to restrict disclosure to your health plan for services you pay in full out of pocket.

Health Care Operations: We may use and disclose your information for hospital operations. For example, we may send you a survey asking about the care you received and use your responses to evaluate the performance of our staff. We may review medical information about several patients to decide what services we should offer and if new treatments are effective. We may share information with doctors, nurses, medical students and other personnel for learning purposes.

Appointment Reminders/Treatment Options: We may contact you for appointments reminders or to tell you about treatment options, alternatives or other health related benefits/services that may be of interest to you.

Fundraising/Marketing: We may disclose information to our Foundation so they may contact you regarding fundraising activities. This information will be limited to your name, date of birth, contact information, dates of service, treating physician, outcome and insurance status. You have the right to notify the Foundation to request to not to receive fundraising information. We are prohibited from selling your information; most other uses for marketing purposes require your authorization.

Facility Directory: We will include your name, location in the hospital and general condition in our hospital directory to be released to people who ask for you by name. You may request not to be included in the directory. Others Involved in Your Care: We may disclose to a family member, close friend or other person identified by you, information relevant to the person’s involvement in your care or payment; unless you request a restriction; or we can reasonably infer from the circumstances and professional judgment that you do not object. Such disclosures may be made after your death unless we are aware that you do not want such disclosures to occur. Disaster Relief: We may disclose medical information about you to an authorized entity assisting in disaster relief so that your family can be notified about your condition or location.

Business Associates: We may disclose information to those who perform functions on our behalf or provide us with services when the information is needed for such functions or services such as vendors. Our business associates are required through legal agreements to protect the privacy of your information and insure the use of safeguards to prevent any uses or disclosures not permitted other than as specified in the contracts.

Other Purposes: We may use or disclose your medical information for other reasons; some of which may or may not require your authorization. When required, an authorization will be obtained. You may revoke an authorization in writing, unless we have taken action in reliance upon your prior authorization. Examples of other uses and disclosures include but are not limited to:

  • Proof of immunizations to a school when required for attendance; with your permission
  • When required by federal or state law
  • To avert a serious threat to health or safety of the public or another person
  • To authorized federal officials for intelligence and national security activities
  • To authorized federal officials to protect the President or other persons or foreign heads of state or to conduct special investigations
  • As required by military authorities if you are a member of the armed forces
  • In response to a court or administrative order, subpoena or other lawful process
  • To law enforcement in response to a court order, subpoena or similar process for the purposes of identifying or locating a suspect, fugitive, material witness or missing person; about a victim of a crime; about a death believed to be the result of criminal conduct; about criminal conduct on our premises; and in emergency circumstances to report a crime including location of the crime or victims; the identity, location or description of the person who may have committed the crime
  • To report child or elder abuse or neglect or domestic violence
  • If you are an inmate, your information may be released to a correctional institution for your health care; to protect your health, the health and safety of others; or the safety of the correctional institution
  • To an organ donation bank or to facilitate organ or tissue donation
  • To workers’ compensation or similar programs for work-related injuries or illness
  • For public health activities such as to prevent or control disease, injury or disability; to report births and deaths; to notify a person who may have been exposed or who may be at risk of spreading a disease
  • To health oversight agencies for activities such as audits, investigations, inspections and licensure. For activities necessary for the government to monitor the health care system, government programs and compliance with civil rights laws
  • To a coroner/medical examiner to identify a deceased person or determine cause of death
  • To funeral directors to carry out their duties
  • For authorized research purposes. Research projects are subject to special approval processes. Before we use or disclose your information, the project will have been evaluated through this process.

Special Cases: We must also comply with North Carolina laws and/or other federal laws about certain types of information. Examples of these include but are not limited to:

  • Communicable Diseases: We are required to report certain communicable diseases to appropriate authorities, such as AIDS, HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, food poisoning and others. This reporting does not require your permission.
  • Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, Substance Abuse: Reporting may be required to agencies governing these areas. When required, an authorization from you will be obtained; in most cases uses and disclosures of psychotherapy notes will require your authorization.
  • Pharmacy Services: North Carolina law limits the sharing of pharmacy information. This information is generally only shared with those involved in your care or who have oversight of the organization.

YOUR RIGHTS ABOUT YOUR INFORMATION

Right to Inspect and Obtain a Copy:  You have the right to request to see and obtain a copy of the medical information that may be used to make decisions about your care as maintained in our designated record set. There may be exceptions to this such as access to psychotherapy notes, information compiled in anticipation of or for use in civil, criminal or administrative proceedings or information that may be governed by other regulations. To view and request a copy of your medical records, you must go to or submit a request in writing to the appropriate facility. There may be costs for copying, mailing or other supplies associated with your request. We will make every effort to respond to your request within the legal timeframes. If we are unable to do so, we will notify you of the delay and the approximate time your request will be completed.

Your request may be denied under certain circumstances. Examples include if the information was obtained under a promise of confidentiality; if access is reasonably likely to endanger the life or safety of you or anyone else; if the information makes reference to another person and your access would likely cause harm to that person or if you are an inmate of a correctional facility. If the access is denied, you may request that the denial be reviewed by submitting your request to us in writing. Every effort will be made to provide you with access to your protected health information in the form and format requested; as long as it is readily producible. If not readily producible, a hard copy or other agreed upon form will be provided in a timely manner. If your request includes instruction to provide and send a copy to another person designated by you, such request must be in writing, signed and clearly identify the other person and location. Charges may apply.

Right to a Paper Copy of this Notice:  You have the right to a paper copy of this notice. Even if you have agreed to receive an electronic copy, you are still entitled to a paper copy. This Notice is posted within our facilities; paper copies are available at any time; and it can be found on our website. Translated copies in other languages may also be available. We encourage you to obtain a copy for review and let us know of your questions.

Right to Request an Amendment:  If you feel that your medical information is incorrect, you have the right to request an amendment. Your request must be in writing and submitted to the appropriate facility. The request may be denied if not in writing; or if you ask us to amend information that was not created by us; or is not part of the medical information kept by or for the hospital; or is not part of the information which you have a right to access or copy; or is deemed accurate and complete. After review of your request we will notify you with the specified timeframe of the acceptance or denial of your request. If accepted, the amendment will be made. If denied and you wish to disagree, you can document your disagreement to be included in your record.

Right to an Accounting (list) of Disclosures: You have the right to request a list of the disclosures we have made of your information. This list will not include disclosures made for treatment purposes, payment or health care operations; made to you or authorized by you; from the hospital directory; to persons involved in your care; for national security purposes; relating to inmates, incidental purposes; or related to a limited data set. To obtain a list, you must submit a request in writing to the other appropriate facility. Your request must state a time period no longer than six years and may not include dates before April 14, 2003. The first list within a 12-month period is free; charges may occur for additional requests by the same individual within a 12-month period. We will notify you of the cost and you may choose to withdraw or revise your request before any costs are incurred. Your right to a request may be temporarily suspended at the request of a health oversight or law enforcement agency if we are notified that the disclosure will impede the activities of the agency.

Right to Request Restrictions/Confidential Communications: You have the right to request a restriction on certain uses and disclosures of your medical information that we use or disclose for treatment, payment or health care operations. For example, you may request not to be included in the hospital directory. You also have the right to request that we communicate with you in a certain way or at a certain location such as at your work location instead of your home. Your request must be in writing and submitted at the time of each registration or during your hospital stay. We are not required to fulfill all requests but will gladly review your request and attempt to accommodate all reasonable requests.

Right to Restrict Disclosure to Health Plan: You have the right to restrict disclosure of your information to your health plan for services that you pay in full out of pocket.

OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Our Legal Duty to Protect Your Information: We are required by law to maintain the privacy of your protected health information as outlined by state and federal regulations; and to give you notice of this duty and our privacy practices. We are also required to notify you of a breach that involves the access or disclosure of any unsecured protected health information about you.

Changes to this Notice of Privacy Practices: We have the right to revise this Notice of Privacy Practices and to make the new notice effective for all the protected health information we maintain. Each new edition will have an effective date posted in a place you can see. We will offer you a copy of the most current edition each time you are registered at one of our facilities. This Notice is posted within our facilities; paper copies are available at any time; and it can be found on our website. Translated copies in other languages may also be available. We are required to abide by the most recent version of our notice.

Uses and Disclosures not Covered by this Notice: We have attempted to include most known uses and disclosures that relate to how we use and disclose your information. There may be other uses and disclosures not covered by this Notice. In such cases, we will request your written authorization unless the use or disclosure is otherwise permitted by law or regulation. An inmate does not have a right to a Notice under the HIPAA Privacy Rule standard regarding Notice of Privacy Practices.

Questions or Complaints: We value your privacy and want to maintain a trusting relationship with you. If you have a question or believe that your privacy rights have been violated, we want to hear from you. Send letters to Advocacy@msj.org and please include your name, address, telephone number and a brief description. We will follow up with you as soon as possible. Or feel free to give us a call at (828) 213-1221.