Hospice of San Luis Obispo County (HSLOC)-a volunteer hospice organization, is not a covered entity under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). However, HSLOC does have a legal and ethical obligation to maintain a standard of confidentiality and respect for a persons Protected Health Information (PHI). HSLOC policies and procedures meet the legal and ethical standards for mental health practice and volunteer hospice work.
This Notice of Privacy Practices describes how your Protected Health Information my be used and disclosed and how you can get access to this information. Please review it carefully.
I. Hospice of San Luis Obispo County (HSLOC) a volunteer hospice organization has a legal duty to safeguard your Protected Health Information (PHI). The staff and volunteers of HSLOC are legally required to protect the privacy of your PHI, which includes information that can be used to identify you that HSLOC staff or volunteers created or received about your past, present, or future health or mental health condition or during the provision of counseling or volunteer services to you. HSLOC must provide you with this Notice about our privacy practices, and such Notice must explain how, when and why HSLOC will use and disclose your PHI. A use of PHI occurs when HSLOC staff or volunteers share, examine, utilize, apply, or analyze such information within the organization; PHI is disclosed when it is released, transferred, has been given to, or is otherwise divulged to a third party outside the organization. With some exceptions, HSLOC staff and volunteers may not use or disclose any more of your PHI than is necessary to accomplish the purpose for which the use or disclosure is made.
HSLOC reserves the right to change the terms of this Notice and our privacy policies at any time. Any changes will apply to PHI on fire with HSLOC already. Before HSLOC makes any important changes to our policies, HSLOC will promptly change this Notice and post a new copy of it in our office and on the HSLOC website. You can also request a copy of the Notice from HSLOC staff and volunteers, or you can view a copy of it in the HSLOC office or at the HSLOC website, which is located at www.hospiceslo.org.
II. How HSLOC may use and disclose your PHI.
HSLOC will use and disclose your PHI for many different reasons. For some of these uses or disclosures, HSLOC will need your prior authorization; for others, however, HSLOC does not. Listed below are the different categories of HSLOC uses and disclosures along with some examples of each category.
A. Uses and Disclosures Relating to Treatment or Health Care Operations That Do Not Require Your Prior Written Consent. HSLOC staff and volunteers can use and disclose your PHI without your consent for the following reasons:
i. For treatment. HSLOC staff and volunteers can disclose your PHI to physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, and other licensed health care/mental health providers who provide you with health/mental health services or are involved in your care. For example, if a psychiatrist or a physician is treating you, HSLOC can disclose your PHI to your psychiatrist or physician in order to coordinate your care.
ii. For HSLOC operations. HSLOC can disclose your PHI to operate the organization. For example, HSLOC might use your PHI to evaluate the quality of hospice services that you received or to evaluate the performance of the HSLOC staff or volunteers who provided such services to you. HSLOC may also provide your PHI to our attorneys, consultants, Medical Advisor and others to make sure HSLOC are complying with applicable laws.
iii. For fundraising activities. HSLOC may use information about you including mailing address, home address, phone number and dates you received care in order to contact you or your family to raise money for HSLOC. HSLOC may also release this information to the Santa Barbara Hospice Foundation. If you do not want HSLOC to contact you or your family, notify the Executive Director, Hospice of San Luis Obispo County, 1304 Pacific St. San Luis Obispo CA 93401, and indicate that you do not wish to be contacted. HSLOC does not sell its mailing list or disclose its mailing list to entities outside the HSLOC organization.
iv. Other disclosures. HSLOC may also disclose your PHI to others without your consent in certain situations. For example, your consent is not required if you need emergency treatment, as long as HSLOC tries to get your consent after treatment is rendered, or if HSLOC tries to get your consent but you are unable to communicate with HSLOC staff or volunteers (for example, if you are unconscious or in severe pain) and HSLOC thinks that you would consent to such treatment if you were able to do so.
v. When federal, state or local law; judicial or administrative proceedings, or law enforcement requires disclosure. For example, HSLOC may make a disclosure to applicable officials when a law requires HSLOC to report information to government agencies and law enforcement personnel about victims of abuse or neglect; or when ordered in a judicial or administrative proceeding.
vi. For public health activities. For example, HSLOC may have to report information about you to the county coroner.
vii. For agency oversight activities. For example, HSLOC may have to provide information to assist the government when it conducts an investigation or inspection of a health care/mental health provider or organization.
viii. For research purposes. In certain circumstances, HSLOC may provide PHI in order to conduct medical and/or mental health research.
ix. To avoid harm. In order to avoid a serious threat to the health or safety of a person or the public, HSLOC may provide PHI to law enforcement personnel or persons able to prevent or lessen such harm.
x. For specific government function. HSLOC may disclose PHI of military personnel and veterans in certain situations. And HSLOC may disclose PHI for national security purposes, such as protecting the President of the United States or conducting intelligence operations.
xi. For workers compensation purposes. HSLOC may provide PHI in order to comply with workers compensation laws.
xii. Appointment reminders and health related benefits or services. HSLOC may use PHI to provide appointment reminders, or give you information about treatment alternatives, or other services or benefits HSLOC offers.
B. Disclosures to family, friends, or others. HSLOC may provide your PHI to a family member, friend, or other person that you indicate is involved in your care unless you object in whole or in part. The opportunity to consent may be obtained retroactively in emergency situations.
C. Access to Psychotherapy Notes. While you may view and submit corrections to your PHI, psychotherapy notes are excluded from this mandated access unless the record is involved in litigation.
D. Other Uses and Disclosures Require Your Prior Written Authorization. In any other situation not described in Section III, A,B,C above, HSLOC will ask for your written authorization before using or disclosing any of your PHI. If you choose to sign an authorization to disclose your PHI, you can later revoke such authorization in writing to stop any future uses and disclosures.
III. WHAT RIGHTS YOU HAVE REGARDING YOUR PHI. You have the following rights with respect to your PHI:
A. The Right to Request Limits on Uses and Disclosures of Your PHI. You have the right to ask that HSLOC limit how HSLOC uses and discloses your PHI. HSLOC will consider your request, but HSLOC is not legally required to accept it. If HSLOC accepts your request, HSLOC will put any limits in writing and abide by them except in emergency situations. You may not limit the uses and disclosures that HSLOC is legally required or allowed to make.
B. The Right to Receive Confidential Communications. You have the right to ask that HSLOC send information to you at an alternate address (for example, sending information to your work address rather than your home address). You may ask that HSLOC staff and volunteers only conduct communications pertaining to your health information with you privately, with no other family member, friend or person present. HSLOC must agree to your request so long as HSLOC can easily provide the PHI to you in the format you requested.
C. The Right to See and Get Copies of Your PHI. In most cases, you have the right to look at or get copies of your PHI that HSLOC has, but you must make the request in writing. If HSLOC does not have your PHI, but HSLOC knows who does, then HSLOC will tell you how to get it. HSLOC will respond to you within 30 days of receiving your written request. In certain situations, HSLOC may deny your request. If HSLOC does, HSLOC will tell you, in writing, the reasons for the denial and explain your right to have the HSLOC denial reviewed. If you request copies of your PHI, HSLOC will not charge you for these copies. Instead of providing the PHI you requested, HSLOC may provide you with a summary of explanation of the PHI as long as you agree to that.
D. The Right to Amend Your PHI. If you or your representative believes that your health information records are incorrect or incomplete, you may request that HSLOC amend your records. That request may be made as long as the information is maintained by HSLOC. A request for an amendment of records must be made in writing to: Executive Director, Hospice of San Luis Obispo County, 1304 Pacific St. San Luis Obispo CA 93401. HSLOC may deny the request if it is not in writing or does not include a reason for the amendment. The request also may be denied if your health information records were not created by HSLOC, if the records that you are requesting are not part of the HSLOC records, if the health information you wish to amend is not part of the health information you or your representative are permitted to inspect and copy, or if, in the opinion of HSLOC, the records containing your health information are accurate and complete.
E. The Right to Get a List of the Disclosures HSLOC Has Made. You have the right to get a list of instances in which HSLOC has disclosed your PHI. The list will not include uses or disclosures that you have already consented to, such as those made for treatment or hospice operations, directly to you, or to your family. The list also will not include uses and disclosures made for national security purposes, to corrections or law enforcement personnel, or disclosures made before June 1, 2004. HSLOC will respond to your request for an accounting of disclosures within 60 days of receiving your request. The list HSLOC will give you will include the date of the disclosures, to whom PHI was disclosed (including their address, if known), a description of the information disclosed, and the reason for the disclosure. HSLOC will provide the list to you at no charge.
F. Questions, Concerns, Complaints. If you have concerns or questions regarding this Notice of Privacy Practices, please contact:
Kris Kington-Barker, Executive Director
Hospice of San Luis Obispo County
1304 Pacific St.
San Luis Obispo CA 93401
Telephone: (805) 544-2266
Fax: (805) 544-6573
Web site: www.hospiceslo.org
If you are not satisfied with the manner in which HSLOC handles your concern, 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 will not be penalized for filing a complaint.