Erika Vargas, LMHC, LLC
Massachusetts Licensed Mental Health Counselor #8748
4 Lincoln Street, Medway, MA 02053
HIPAA NOTICE OF PRIVACY PRACTICES
Effective Date: 3/13/2015
If you have any questions about this notice, please contact Erika Vargas at 617-545-4969. Please note that this notice is required by Federal law, and the information it contains is mandated by that law. If you have any questions about how your Protected Health Information (PHI) is used, please contact me.
NOTICE OF PRIVACY PRACTICES
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 THIS NOTICE CAREFULLY.
I. My Pledge Regarding Your Health Information:
I understand that health information about you and your health care is personal. I am committed to protecting health information about you. I keep an electronic medical record of the care and services you receive from me. I need this record to provide you with quality care and to comply with certain legal requirements. This notice applies to all of the records of your care generated by this mental health care practice. This notice will tell you about the ways in which I may use and disclose health information about you. I also describe your rights to the health information I keep about you, and describe certain obligations I have regarding the use and disclosure of your health information. I am required by law to:
• Make sure that protected health information (“PHI”) that identifies you is kept private.
• Give you this notice of my legal duties and privacy practices with respect to health information.
• Follow the terms of the notice that is currently in effect.
• I can change the terms of this Notice, and such changes will apply to all information I have about you. The new Notice will be available upon request, in my office, and on my website.
II. Uses (Inside Practice) and Disclosures (Outside Practice) of PHI relating to treatment, payment, or health care operations do not require your written consent, as they are necessary activities for quality care. Per state and federal laws, I can use and disclose your PHI without your authorization for the following reasons:
1. For your treatment. I can use and disclose your PHI to treat you, which may include disclosing your PHI to another health care professional. For example, if you are being treated by a physician or a psychiatrist, I can disclose your PHI to him or her to help coordinate your care, although my preference is for you to give me an Authorization to do so.
2. To obtain payment for your treatment. I can use and disclose your PHI to bill and collect payment for the treatment and services provided by me to you. For example, I might send your PHI to your insurance company to get paid for the health care services that I have provided to you, although my preference is for you to give me an Authorization to do so.
3. For health care operations. I can use and disclose your PHI for purposes of conducting health care operations pertaining to my practice, including contacting you when necessary. For example, I may need to disclose your PHI to an attorney to obtain advice about complying with applicable laws.
4. Lawsuits and Disputes: If you are involved in a lawsuit, I may disclose health information in response to a court or administrative order. I may also disclose health information about your child in response to a subpoena, discovery request, or other lawful process by someone else involved in the dispute, but only if efforts have been made to tell you about the request or to obtain an order protecting the information requested.
III. Certain Uses & Disclosures Require Your Authorization:
1. Psychotherapy Notes. I do not keep “psychotherapy notes” as that term is defined in 45 CFR § 164.501, and any use or disclosure of such notes requires your Authorization unless the use or disclosure is:
a. For my use in treating you.
b. For my use in training or supervising mental health practitioners to help them improve their skills in group, joint, family, or individual counseling or therapy.
c. For my use in defending myself in legal proceedings instituted by you.
d. For use by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to investigate my compliance with HIPAA.
e. Required by law and the use or disclosure is limited to the requirements of such law.
f. Required by law for certain health oversight activities pertaining to the originator of the psychotherapy notes.
g. Required by a coroner who is performing duties authorized by law.
h. Required to help avert a serious threat to the health and safety of others.
2. Marketing Purposes. As a psychotherapist, I will not use or disclose your PHI for marketing purposes.
3. Sale of PHI. As a psychotherapist, I will not sell your PHI in the regular course of my business.
IV. Certain Uses & Disclosures Do Not Require Your Authorization:
Subject to certain limitations in the law, I can use and disclose your PHI without your Authorization for the following reasons:
- When disclosure is required by state or federal law, and the use or disclosure complies with and is limited to the relevant requirements of such law.
- For public health activities, including reporting suspected child, elder, or dependent adult abuse, or preventing or reducing a serious threat to anyone’s health or safety, including your own.
- For health oversight activities, including audits and investigations.
- For judicial and administrative proceedings, including responding to a court or administrative order, although my preference is to obtain an Authorization from you before doing so.
- For law enforcement purposes, including reporting crimes occurring on my premises.
- To coroners or medical examiners, when such individuals are performing duties authorized by law.
- For research purposes, including studying and comparing the mental health of patients who received one form of therapy versus those who received another form of therapy for the same condition.
- Specialized government functions, including, ensuring the proper execution of military missions; protecting the President of the United States; conducting intelligence or counterintelligence operations; or, helping to ensure the safety of those working within or housed in correctional institutions.
- For workers’ compensation purposes. Although my preference is to obtain an Authorization from you, I may provide your PHI in order to comply with workers’ compensation laws.
- Appointment reminders and health related benefits or services. I may use and disclose your PHI to contact you to remind you that you have an appointment with me. I may also use and disclose your PHI to tell you about treatment alternatives, or other health care services or benefits that I offer.
V. Certain Uses & Disclosures Require That You Have the Opportunity to Object:
- Disclosures to family, friends, or others. I may provide your PHI to a family member, friend, or other person that you indicate is involved in your care or the payment for your health care, unless you object in whole or in part. The opportunity to consent may be obtained retroactively in emergency situations.
VI. You Have the Following Rights With Respect to Your PHI:
- The Right to Request Limits on Uses and Disclosures of Your PHI. You have the right to ask me not to use or disclose certain PHI for treatment, payment, or health care operations purposes. I am not required to agree to your request, and I may say “no” if I believe it would affect your health care.
- The Right to Request Restrictions for Out-of-Pocket Expenses Paid for In Full. You have the right to request restrictions on disclosures of your PHI to health plans for payment or health care operations purposes if the PHI pertains solely to a health care item or a health care service that you have paid for out-of-pocket in full.
- The Right to Choose How I Send PHI to You. You have the right to ask me to contact you in a specific way (for example, home or office phone) or to send mail to a different address, and I will agree to all reasonable requests.
- The Right to See and Receive Copies of Your PHI. Other than “psychotherapy notes,” you have the right to receive an electronic or paper copy of your medical record and other information that I have about you. I will provide you with a copy of your record, or a summary of it, if you agree to receive a summary, within 30 days of receiving your written request, and I may charge a reasonable, cost based fee for doing so.
- The Right to Receive a List of the Disclosures I Have Made. You have the right to request a list of instances in which I have disclosed your PHI for purposes other than treatment, payment, or health care operations, or for which you provided me with an Authorization. I will respond to your request for an accounting of disclosures within 60 days of receiving your request. The list I will give you will include disclosures made in the last six years unless you request a shorter time. I will provide the list to you at no charge, but if you make more than one request in the same year, I will charge you a reasonable cost based fee for each additional request.
- The Right to Correct or Update Your PHI. If you believe that there is a mistake in your PHI, or that a piece of important information is missing from your PHI, you have the right to request that I correct the existing information or add the missing information. I may say “no” to your request, but I will tell you why in writing within 60 days of receiving your request.
- The Right to Receive a Paper or Electronic Copy of this Notice. You have the right to receive a paper copy of this Notice, and you have the right to receive a copy of this notice by e-mail. And, even if you have agreed to receive this Notice via e-mail, you also have the right to request a paper copy of it.
HOW TO COMPLAIN ABOUT MY PRIVACY PRACTICES
If you think I may have violated your privacy rights, you may file a complaint with me, as the Privacy Officer for my practice. My address and telephone number are at the beginning of this document. You can also file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights by:
1. Sending a letter to 200 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20201;
2. Calling 1-877-696-6775; or,
3. Visiting http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/complaints.
I will not retaliate against you if you file a complaint about my privacy practices.
EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS NOTICE
This notice went into effect on March 13, 2015.
Acknowledgement of Receipt of Privacy Notice
Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), you have certain rights regarding the use and disclosure of your protected health information.