II. HOW WE MAY USE AND DISCLOSE MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU.
The following categories describe the different reasons that we typically use and disclose medical information. These categories are intended to be general descriptions only, and not a list of every instance in which we may use or disclose your medical information. Please understand that for these categories, the law generally does not require us to get your authorization in order for us to use or disclose your medical information.
A. For Treatment. We may use and disclose medical information about you to provide you with health care treatment and related services, including coordinating and managing your health care. We may disclose medical information about you to physicians, nurses, other health care providers and personnel who are providing or involved in providing health care to you (both within and outside of the Practice). For example, should your care require referral to or treatment by another physician of a specialty outside of the Practice, we may provide that physician with your medical information in order to aid the physician in his or her treatment of you.
B. For Payment. We may use and disclose medical information about you so that we or may bill and collect from you, an insurance company, or a third party for the health care services we provide. This may also include the disclosure of medical information to obtain prior authorization for treatment and procedures from your insurance plan. For example, we may send a claim for payment to your insurance company, and that claim may have a code on it that describes the services that have been rendered to you. If, however, you pay for an item or service in full, out of pocket and request that we not disclose to your health plan the medical information solely relating to that item or service, as described more fully in Section IV of this Notice, we will follow that restriction on disclosure unless otherwise required by law.
C. For Health Care Operations. We may use and disclose medical information about you for our health care operations. These uses and disclosures are necessary to operate and manage our practice and to promote quality care. For example, we may need to use or disclose your medical information in order to assess the quality of care you receive or to conduct certain cost management, business management, administrative, or quality improvement activities or to provide information to our insurance carriers.
D. Quality Assurance. We may need to use or disclose your medical information for our internal processes to assess and facilitate the provision of quality care to our patients.
E. Utilization Review. We may need to use or disclose your medical information to perform a review of the services we provide in order to evaluate whether that the appropriate level of services is received, depending on condition and diagnosis.
F. Credentialing and Peer Review. We may need to use or disclose your medical information in order for us to review the credentials, qualifications and actions of our health care providers.
G. Treatment Alternatives. We may use and disclose medical information to tell you about or recommend possible treatment options or alternatives that we believe may be of interest to you.
H. Appointment Reminders and Health Related Benefits and Services. We may use and disclose medical information, in order to contact you (including, for example, contacting you by phone and leaving a voicemail or message on an answering machine) to provide appointment reminders and other information. We may use and disclose medical information to tell you about health-related benefits or services that we believe may be of interest to you. This may be done by email or text message.
I. Business Associates. There are some services (such as billing or legal services) that may be provided to or on behalf of our Practice through contracts with business associates. When these services are contracted, we may disclose your medical information to our business associate so that they can perform the job we have asked them to do. To protect your medical information, however, we require the business associate to appropriately safeguard your information.
J. Individuals Involved in Your Care or Payment for Your Care. We may disclose medical information about you to a friend or family member who is involved in your health care, as well as to someone who helps pay for your care, but we will do so only as allowed by state or federal law (with an opportunity for you to agree or object when required under the law), or in accordance with your prior authorization.
K. As Required by Law. We will disclose medical information about you when required to do so by federal, state, or local law or regulations.
L. To Avert an Imminent Threat of Injury to Health or Safety. We may use and disclose medical information about you when necessary to prevent or decrease a serious and imminent threat of injury to your physical, mental or emotional health or safety or the physical safety of another person. Such disclosure would only be to medical or law enforcement personnel.
M. Organ and Tissue Donation. If you are an organ donor, we may use and disclose medical information to organizations that handle organ procurement or organ, eye or tissue transplantation or to an organ donation bank as necessary to facilitate organ or tissue donation and transplantation.
N. Limited Data Set. System may use or disclose your medical information for purposes of health care operations, research, or public health activities if the information is stripped of direct identifiers and the recipient agrees to keep the information confidential.
O. Military and Veterans. If you are a member of the armed forces, we may use and disclose medical information about you as required by the appropriate military authorities.
P. Workers' Compensation. We may disclose medical information about you for your workers' compensation or similar program. These programs provide benefits for work-related injuries. For example, if you have injuries that resulted from your employment, workers' compensation insurance or a state workers' compensation program may be responsible for payment for your care, in which case we might be required to provide information to the insurer or program.
Q. Public Health Risks. We may disclose medical information about you to public health authorities for public health activities. As a general rule, we are required by law to disclose certain types of information to public health authorities, such as the Texas Department of State Health Services. The types of information generally include information
- To prevent or control disease, injury, or disability (including the reporting of a particular disease or injury.
- To report births and deaths.
- To report suspected child abuse or neglect.
- To report reactions to medications or problems with medical devices and supplies.
- To notify people of recalls of products they may be using.
- To notify a person who may have been exposed to a disease or may be at risk for contracting or spreading a disease or condition.
- To notify the appropriate government authority if we believe a patient has been the victim of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence. We will only make this disclosure if you agree or when required or authorized by law.
- To provide information about certain medical devices.
- To assist in public health investigations, surveillance, or interventions.
R. Health Oversight Activities. We may disclose medical information to a health oversight agency for activities authorized by law. These oversight activities include audits, civil, administrative, or criminal investigations and proceedings, inspections, licensure and disciplinary actions, and other activities necessary for the government to monitor the health care system, certain governmenta benefit programs, certain entities subject to government regulations which relate to health information, and compliance with civil rights laws.
S. Legal Matters. If you are involved in a lawsuit or a legal dispute, we may disclose medical information about you in response to a court or administrative order, subpoena, discovery request, or other lawful process. In addition to lawsuits, there may be other legal proceedings for which we may be required or authorized to use or disclose your medical information, such as investigations of health care providers, competency hearings on individuals, or claims over the payment of fees for medical services.
T. Law Enforcement, National Security and Intelligence Activities. In certain circumstances, we may disclose your medical information if we are asked to do so by law enforcement officials, or if we are required by law to do so. We may disclose your medical information to law enforcement personnel, if necessary to prevent or decrease a serious and imminent threat of injury to your physical, mental or emotional health or safety or the physical safety of another person. We may disclose medical information about you to authorized federal officials for intelligence, counterintelligence, and other national security activities authorized by law.
U. Coroners, Medical Examiners and Funeral Home Directors. We may disclose your medical information to a coroner or medical examiner. This may be necessary, for example, to identify a deceased person or determine the cause of death. We may also release medical information about our patients to funeral home directors as necessary to carry out their duties.
V. Inmates. If you are an inmate of a correctional institution or under custody of a law enforcement official, we may disclose medical information about you to the health care personnel of a correctional institution as necessary for the institution to provide you with health care treatment.
W. Incidental Uses and Disclosures. Uses and disclosures that occur incidentally with a use or disclosure described in this Section II are acceptable if they occur notwithstanding the Practice’s reasonable safeguards to limit such incidental uses
X. Electronic Disclosures of Medical Information. Under Texas law, we are required to provide notice to you if your medical information is subject to electronic disclosure. This Notice serves as general notice that we may disclose your medical information electronically for treatment, payment, or health care operations or as otherwise authorized or required by state or federal law.
Y. Information Regarding Minors. Parents are the personal representatives for their minor children and can exercise individual rights, such as access to medical records, on behalf of their minor children. Exceptions to this include the minor's right to seek independent treatment. Any minor who is either in the military or 16 years old and living apart from one's parents (and thus eligible for emancipation) may consent to medical treatment. However, all minors in Texas may consent to treatment pertaining to pregnancy, drug or alcohol abuse, or infectious diseases.
Z. Written Authorization. The Practice may use or disclose your medical information under circumstances that are not described above only if you provide permission by “written authorization.” After you provide written authorization, you may revoke that authorization, in writing, at any time by sending notice of the revocation to the Practice. If you revoke an authorization, the Practice will no longer use or disclose your medical information under the circumstances permitted by that authorization. However, the Practice cannot take back any disclosures already made under that authorization.