THIS NOTICE DESCRIBES HOW HEALTH INFORMATION MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED AND HOW YOU CAN GET ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION. PLEASE REVIEW IT CAREFULLY.
Bellaire Family Counseling has been and will always be totally committed to maintaining our clients’ confidentiality. We will only release healthcare information about you in accordance with federal and state laws and ethics of the counseling profession.
This notice describes our policies related to the use and disclosure of your healthcare information. It tells how we use this information here in this office, how we share it with other professionals and organizations, and how you can see it. If you have any questions or want to know more about anything in this notice, please ask for more explanations or more details.
Each time you visit us or any health care provider, information is collected about you and your physical and mental health. It may be information about your past, present, or future health or conditions; tests or treatment you got from us or from others; or about payment for health care. The information we collect from you is called “PHI,” which stands for “protected health information.” This information goes into your medical or health care records in our office.
Although your health care records in our office are our physical property, the information belongs to you. You may read your records at any time and/or request a copy of them (you may be charged for the costs of copying). In some very rare situations, you may not be allowed access to all of what is in your records. If you find anything in your records that you think is incorrect or believe that something important is missing, you may ask us to amend (add information to) them. However, in some rare situations, we may not make the amendment.
We are required to tell you about privacy because of state laws and a federal law, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). HIPAA requires us to keep your PHI private and to provide this notice about our legal duties and our privacy practices. If we change our privacy practices, we will post the new notice of privacy practices where you can review it. You can also get a copy at any time.
USES AND DISCLOSURE OF YOUR HEALTH INFORMATION FOR THE PURPOSES OF PROVIDING SERVICES
The most common uses of PHI are: in the course of providing treatment, arranging for payment for our services, or other business functions called “health care operations.” If you do not agree, we cannot treat you.
We may use your medical information to provide you with psychological treatments or services. These might include individual, family, or group therapy; psychological, educational, or vocational testing; treatment planning; or measuring the benefits of our services.
We may share your PHI with others who provide treatment to you including your personal physician. We may refer you to other professionals or consultants for services we cannot provide. When we do this, we need to tell them things about you and your conditions. We may get back their findings and opinions, and those will go into your records here.
We may use your information on invoices or receipts for the treatments we provide to you. We may have to disclose your diagnosis, what treatments you have received, and the changes we expect in your conditions. We may also need to provide information about when we met, your progress, and other similar things.
We may need to use information about you to review our treatment procedures and business activity. Information may be used for certification, compliance and licensing activities.
OTHER USES AND DISCLOSURES IN HEALTH CARE
We may use and disclose your PHI to reschedule or remind you of appointments for treatment or other care. If you want us to call or write to you only at your home or your work, or you prefer some other way to reach you, we can typically arrange for that. Please inform us of those specifics.
We hire other businesses to do some jobs for us. In the law, they are called our “business associates.” Examples include a copy service to make copies of your health records, or a billing service to process, print, and mail our bills. These business associates need to receive some of your PHI to do their jobs properly. To protect your privacy, they have agreed in their contract with us to safeguard your information.
USES AND DISCLOSURES THAT REQUIRE YOUR AUTHORIZATION
If we want to use your information for any purpose besides those described above, we need your permission on an authorization form. We don’t expect to need this very often. If you do allow us to use or disclose your PHI, you can cancel that permission in writing at any time. We would then stop using or disclosing your information. Of course, we cannot take back any information we have already disclosed or used with your permission.
OTHER USES AND DISCLOSURES OF YOUR INFORMATION WHICH DO NOT REQUIRE YOUR CONSENT
There are some instances where we may be required to use and disclose information without your consent. These include:
We have to report suspected child abuse.
If you are involved in a lawsuit or legal proceeding, and we receive a subpoena, discovery request, or other lawful process, we may have to release some of your PHI.
We may have to disclose some information to the government agencies that check on us to see that we are obeying the privacy laws.
If we come to believe that there is a serious threat to your health or safety, or that of another person or the public, we may disclose some of your PHI. We will only do this to persons who can prevent the danger.
YOU HAVE THE FOLLOWING RIGHTS WITH RESPECT TO YOUR PHI:
Right to request how we contact you: It is our normal practice to communicate with you at your home address and the phone number you have provided, about health matters, such as appointment reminders etc. Sometimes we may leave messages on your voicemail. You have the right to request that our office communicate with you in a different way.
Right to release your medical records: You may consent in writing to release your records to others. You have the right to revoke this authorization, in writing, at any time. However, a revocation is not valid to the extent that we have already acted in reliance on such authorization.
Right to inspect and copy your medical and billing records: You have the right to inspect or obtain a copy of your information contained in our medical records. To request access to your billing or health information, contact our office. Under limited circumstances we may deny your request to inspect or copy. If you ask for a copy of any information, we may charge a reasonable fee for the costs of copying, mailing and supplies.
Right to complain: If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, please contact us personally, and discuss your concerns. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you may file a written complaint with the Texas Department of State Health Services. An individual will not be retaliated against for filing such a complaint.
Right to receive changes in policy: You have the right to receive any future policy changes secondary to changes in state and federal laws. This can be obtained from our office.
EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS NOTICE
This notice went into effect on July 1, 2022.