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HIPAA & Your Privacy

This notice describes how medical information about you may be used and disclosed and how you can get access to this information as of July 1, 2013. Please review it carefully. If you have any questions about this Privacy Notice, please contact our Privacy Officer at 650.688.3612 or email HIPAA@chconline.org.

I.    Introduction

This Notice of Privacy Practices describes how we may use and disclose your Protected Health Information to carry out treatment, payment or health care operations and for other purposes that are permitted or required by law. This Notice also describes your rights regarding protected health information we maintain about you and a brief description of how you may exercise these rights.  This Notice further states the obligations we have to protect your protected health information.

“Protected Health Information” means health information, including identifying information about you, we have collected from you or received from your health care providers, health plans, your employer or a health care clearinghouse.   It may include information about your past, present or future physical or mental health or condition, the provision of your health care, and payment for your health care services.  We are required by law to maintain the privacy of your Protected Health Information and to provide you with this notice of our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to your Protected Health Information.  We are also required to comply with the terms of our current Notice of Privacy Practices.

II.    How We Will Use and Disclose Your Protected Health Information

We will use and disclose your Protected Health Information as described in each category listed below.  For each category, we will explain what we mean in general, but not describe all specific uses or disclosures of Protected Health Information.

A. Uses and Disclosures for Treatment, Payment and Operations

  1. For Treatment.  We will use and disclosure your Protected Health Information without your authorization to provide your health care and any related services.  We will also use and disclose your Protected Health Information to coordinate and manage your health care and related services.  For example, we may need to disclose information to a case manager who is responsible for coordinating your care.  We may also disclose your Protected Health Information among our clinicians and other staff, e.g. intake coordinator and program assistants who work at Children’s Health Council (CHC).  For example, our staff may discuss your care at a case conference.  In addition, we may disclose your Protected Health Information without your authorization to another health care provider (e.g., your primary care physician or a laboratory) working outside of Children’s Health Council for purposes of your treatment.
  2. For Payment.   We may use or disclose your Protected Health Information without your authorization so that the treatment and services you receive are billed to, and payment is collected from, your health plan or other third party payer.  By way of example, we may disclose your Protected Health Information to permit your health plan or other health insurer to take certain actions before your health plan or insurer approves or pays for your services.  These actions may include:
    • making a determination of eligibility or coverage for health insurance;
    • reviewing your services to determine if they were medically necessary;
    • reviewing your services to determine if they were appropriately authorized or certified in advance of your care; or
    • reviewing your services for purposes of utilization review, to ensure appropriateness of your care, or justify  charges for your care.

    For example, your health plan or insurer may ask us to share your Protected Health Information in order to determine if the plan will approve additional visits to your therapist.  We may also disclose your Protected Health Information to another health care provider so that provider can bill you for services they provided to you, for example an ambulance service that transported you to the hospital.

  3. For Health Care Operations.  We may use and disclose Protected Health Information about you without your authorization for our health care operations. These uses and disclosures are necessary to run our organization and make sure that our clients receive quality care.  These activities may include, for example, quality assessment and improvement, reviewing the performance or qualifications of our clinicians, training students in clinical activities, licensing, accreditation, business planning and development, and general administrative activities. We may combine Protected Health Information of many of our clients to decide what additional services we should offer, what services are no longer needed, and whether certain treatments are effective.  We may also provide your Protected Health Information to other health care providers or to your health plan to assist them in performing certain of their own health care operations. We will do so only if you have or have had a relationship with the other provider or health plan. For example, we may provide information about you to your health plan to assist them in their quality assurance activities. We may also use and disclose your Protected Health Information to contact you to remind you of your appointment. Finally, we may use and disclose your Protected Health Information to inform you about possible treatment options or alternatives that may be of interest to you.
  4. Health-Related Benefits and Services.  We may use and disclose Protected Health Information to tell you about health-related benefits or services that may be of interest to you.  If you do not want us to provide you with information about health-related benefits or services, you must notify the Privacy Officer in writing at Children’s Health Council, 650 Clark Way, Palo Alto, CA 94304. Please state clearly that you do not want to receive materials about health-related benefits or services.

B.  Uses and Disclosures That May be Made Without Your Authorization, But For Which You Will Have an Opportunity to Object.

  1. Persons Involved in Your Care.  We may provide Protected Health Information about you to someone who helps pay for your care.  We may use or disclose your Protected Health Information to notify or assist in notifying a family member, personal representative, public guardian or conservator or any other person that is responsible for your care of your location, general condition or death.  We may also use or disclose your Protected Health Information to an entity assisting in disaster relief efforts and to coordinate uses and disclosures for this purpose to family or other individuals involved in your health care.  In limited circumstances, we may disclose Protected Health Information about you to a friend or family member who is involved in your care.  If you are physically present and have the capacity to make health care decisions, your Protected Health Information may only be disclosed with your agreement to persons you designate to be involved in your care.  If you are in an emergency situation, we may disclose your Protected Health Information to a spouse, a family member, or a friend so that such person may assist in your care. In this case we will determine whether the disclosure is in your best interest and, if so, only disclose information that is directly relevant to participation in your care.  And, if you are not in an emergency situation but are unable to make health care decisions, we will disclose your Protected Health Information to:
    • a person designated to participate in your care in accordance with an advance directive validly executed under state law,
    • your guardian or other fiduciary if one has been appointed by a court, or
    • if applicable, the state agency responsible for consenting to your care.
  2. Advancement.  We may use certain information (name, address, telephone number, age and gender) to contact you in the future to raise money for Children’s Health Council.  The money raised will be used to expand and improve the services and programs we provide the community.  If you wish to have your name removed from the list to receive fundraising requests, please write to the HIPAA Privacy Officer, at Children’s Health Council 650 Clark Way, Palo Alto, CA 94304, or HIPAA@chconline.org.

C. Uses and Disclosures That May be Made Without Your Authorization or Opportunity to Object.

  1. Emergencies.  We may use and disclose your Protected Health Information in an emergency treatment situation.  By way of example, we may provide your Protected Health Information to a paramedic who is transporting you in an ambulance.  If a clinician is required by law to treat you and your treating clinician has attempted to obtain your authorization but is unable to do so, the treating clinician may nevertheless use or disclose your Protected Health Information to treat you.
  2. Research.  We may disclose your Protected Health Information to researchers when their research has been approved by an Institutional Review Board or a similar Privacy Board that has reviewed the research proposal and established protocols to protect the privacy of your Protected Health Information.
  3. As Required By Law.  We will disclose Protected Health Information about you when required to do so by federal, state or local law.
  4. To Avert a Serious Threat to Health or Safety.  We may use and disclose Protected Health Information about you when necessary to prevent a serious and imminent threat to your health or safety or to the health or safety of the public or another person.  Under these circumstances, we will only disclose Protected Health Information to someone who is able to help prevent or lessen the threat.
  5. Organ and Tissue Donation.  If you are an organ donor, we may release your Protected Health Information to an organ procurement organization or to an entity that conducts organ, eye or tissue transplantation, or serves as an organ donation bank, as necessary to facilitate organ, eye or tissue donation and transplantation.
  6. Public Health Activities.  We may disclose Protected Health Information about you as necessary for public health activities including, by way of example, disclosures to:
    • report to public health authorities for the purpose of preventing or controlling disease, injury or disability;
    • report vital events such as birth or death;
    • conduct public health surveillance or investigations;
    • report child abuse or neglect;
    • report certain events to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or to a person subject to the jurisdiction of the FDA including information about defective products or problems with medications;
    • notify clients about FDA-initiated product recalls;
    • notify a person who may have been exposed to a communicable disease or who is at risk of contracting or spreading a disease or condition;
    • notify appropriate government agency if we believe you have been a victim of abuse or neglect or domestic violence.  We will only notify an agency if we obtain your agreement or if we are required or authorized by law to report such abuse, neglect or domestic violence.
  7. Health Oversight Activities.  We may disclose Protected Health Information about you to a health oversight agency for activities authorized by law.  Oversight agencies include government agencies that oversee the health care system, government benefit programs such as Medicare or Medicaid, other government programs regulating health care, and civil rights laws.
  8. Disclosures in Legal Proceedings.  We may disclose Protected Health Information about you to a court or administrative agency when a judge or administrative agency orders us to do so.  We also may disclose Protected Health Information about you in legal proceedings without your permission or without a judge or administrative agency’s order when we receive a subpoena for your Protected Health Information.  We will not provide this information in response to a subpoena without your authorization if the request is for records of a federally-assisted substance abuse program;
  9. Law Enforcement Activities.  We may disclose Protected Health Information to a law enforcement official for law enforcement purposes when:
    • a court order, subpoena, warrant, summons or similar process requires us to do so; or
    • the information is needed to identify or locate a suspect, fugitive, material witness or missing person; or
    • we report a death that we believe may be the result of criminal conduct; or
    • we report criminal conduct occurring on the premises of our facility; or
    • we determine that the law enforcement purpose is to respond to a threat of an imminently dangerous activity by you against yourself or another person; or
    • the disclosure is otherwise required by law.

    We may also disclose Protected Health Information about a client who is a victim of a crime, without a court order or without being required to do so by law.  However, we will do so only if law enforcement officials have requested the disclosure and the victim agrees to the disclosure or, in the case of the victim’s incapacity, the following occurs:

    • the law enforcement official represents to us that (i) the victim is not the subject of the investigation and (ii) an immediate law enforcement activity to meet a serious danger to the victim or others depends upon the disclosure; and
    • we determine that the disclosure is in the victim’s best interest.
  10. Medical Examiners.  We may provide Protected Health Information about our clients to a medical examiner.   Medical examiners are appointed by law to assist in identifying deceased persons and to determine the cause of death in certain circumstances.
  11. Military and Veterans.  If you a member of the armed forces, we may disclose your Protected Health Information as required by military command authorities.  We may also disclose your Protected Health Information for the purpose of determining your eligibility for benefits provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Finally, if you are a member of a foreign military service, we may disclose your Protected Health Information to that foreign military authority.
  12. 1National Security and Protective Services for the President and Others.  We may disclose medical information about you to authorized federal officials for intelligence, counter-intelligence, and other national security activities authorized by law.  We may also disclose Protected Health Information about you to authorized federal officials so they may provide protection to the President, other authorized persons or foreign heads of state or so they may conduct special investigations.
  13. Inmates.  If you are an inmate of a correctional institution or under the custody of a law enforcement official, we may disclose Protected Health Information about you to the correctional institution or law enforcement official.
  14. Workers’ Compensation.  We may disclose Protected Health Information about you to comply with the state’s Workers’ Compensation Law.

III. Uses and Disclosures Requiring Your Written Authorization.

Except as otherwise described in this Notice of Privacy Practices or otherwise permitted under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”), uses and disclosures of your Protected Health Information will be made only with your written authorization subject to your right to revoke such authorization at any time.  Your written authorization is generally required before we will use or disclose your psychotherapy notes.  Psychotherapy notes are notes about your conversations with mental health professionals during a counseling session.  We may use and disclose such notes when needed by us to defend against litigation filed by you.

IV. Your Rights Regarding Your Protected Health Information.

A.  Right to Inspect and Copy.

You have the right to request an opportunity to inspect or copy Protected Health Information used to make decisions about your care – whether they are decisions about your treatment or payment of your care.  Usually, this would include clinical and billing records, but not psychotherapy notes. You must submit your request in writing to our Privacy Officer at Children’s Health Council, 650 Clark Way, Palo Alto, CA 94304If you request a copy of the information, we may charge a fee for the cost of copying, mailing and supplies associated with your request.  We may deny your request to inspect or copy your Protected Health Information in certain limited circumstances.  In some cases, you will have the right to have the denial reviewed by a licensed health care professional not directly involved in the original decision to deny access.  We will inform you in writing if the denial of your request may be reviewed.  Once the review is completed, we will honor the decision made by the licensed health care professional reviewer.  We must provide you with access to your Protected Health Information in the form and format requested by you, if the Protected Health Information is readily producible in that form and format. If the Protected Health Information cannot be provided to you in the form and format that you request, we must provide the information to you in a readable hard copy or in such other form as we mutually agree is acceptable.

B.  Right to Amend.

For as long as we keep records about you, you have the right to request us to amend any Protected Health Information used to make decisions about your care  – whether they are decisions about your treatment or payment of your care.  Usually, this would include clinical and billing records, but not psychotherapy notes.  To request an amendment, you must submit a written document to our Privacy Officer at Children’s Health Council; 650 Clark Way, Palo Alto, CA 94304 and tell us why you believe the information is incorrect or inaccurate. We may deny your request for an amendment if it is not in writing or does not include a reason to support the request.  We may also deny your request if you ask us to amend Protected Health Information that:

  • was not created by us, unless the person or entity that created the Protected Health Information is no longer available to make the amendment;
  • is not part of the Protected Health Information we maintain to make decisions about your care;
  • is not part of the Protected Health Information that you would be permitted to inspect or copy; or
  • is accurate and complete.

If we deny your request to amend, we will send you a written notice of the denial stating the basis for the denial and offering you the opportunity to provide a written statement disagreeing with the denial.  If you do not wish to prepare a written statement of disagreement, you may ask that the requested amendment and our denial be attached to all future disclosures of the Protected Health Information that is the subject of your request.  If you choose to submit a written statement of disagreement, we have the right to prepare a written rebuttal to your statement of disagreement.  In this case, we will attach the written request and the rebuttal (as well as the original request and denial) to all future disclosures of the Protected Health Information that is the subject of your request.

C.  Right to an Accounting of Disclosures.

You have the right to request that we provide you with an accounting of disclosures we have made of your Protected Health Information.  An accounting is a list of disclosures.  But this list will not include certain disclosures of your Protected Health Information, for example, those we have made for purposes of treatment, payment, and health care operations. We will respond to your request for an accounting within 60 days after receipt unless we notify you in writing prior to the expiration of the 60 day period why we are unable to respond within that time frame and specify the date on which we will respond, which will not be later than 90 days after receipt of your request. To request an accounting of disclosures, you must submit your request in writing to the Privacy Officer at Children’s Health Council, 650 Clark Way, Palo Alto, CA 94304.  For your convenience, you may submit your request on a form called a “Request For Accounting,” which you may obtain from our Privacy Officer.  The request should state the time period for which you wish to receive an accounting. This time period should not be longer than six years and not include dates before April 14, 2003.  The first accounting you request within a twelve-month period will be free.  For additional requests during the same 12-month period, we will charge you for the costs of providing the accounting.  We will notify you of the amount we will charge and you may choose to withdraw or modify your request before we incur any costs.

D.  Right to Request Restrictions.

You have the right to request that we limit uses and disclosures of Protected Health Information in relation to treatment, payment and health care operations or not use or disclose your Protected Health Information for these reasons at all. You also have the right to request we restrict the use or disclosure of your Protected Health Information to family members or personal representatives. Any such request must be made in writing to Children’s Health Council, 650 Clark Way, Palo Alto, CA 94304. The Privacy Officer will ask you to sign a request for restriction form, which you should complete and return to the Privacy Officer. You must state the specific restriction requested and to whom that restriction would apply. Except as explained in the next paragraph, we are not required to agree to a restriction that you request. However, if we do agree to the requested restriction, we may not violate that restriction except as necessary to allow for the provision of emergency medical care to you. If you request that we restrict the use and disclosure of your Protected Health Information for purposes of payment or health care options (but not for purposes of carrying out treatment) and if the Protected Health Information pertains solely to a health care item or service for which the provider has been paid out of pocket in full, then we must comply with your request.

E.  Right to Request Confidential Communications.

You have the right to request that we communicate with you about your health care only in a certain location or through a certain method.  For example, you may request that we contact you only at work or by e-mail.  To request such a confidential communication, you must make your request in writing to the Privacy Officer at Children’s Health Council, 650 Clark Way, Palo Alto, CA 94304.  We will accommodate all reasonable requests.  You do not need to give us a reason for the request; but your request must specify how or where you wish to be contacted. If we maintain your Protected Health Information in an electronic form, you have a right to obtain a copy of such information in an electronic form. You also may direct us to transmit a copy of that Protected Health Information directly to an entity or person that you designate, provided that your direction is clear, conspicuous and specific. If you are charged a fee by us for providing such electronic information, the fee may not exceed certain labor costs and certain other costs in transmitting that request.

F.  Right to a Paper Copy of this Notice.

You have the right to obtain a paper copy of this Notice of Privacy Practices at any time.  Even if you have agreed to receive this Notice of Privacy Practices electronically, you may still obtain a paper copy.  To obtain a paper copy, contact our Privacy Officer at Children’s Health Council, 650 Clark Way, Palo Alto, CA 94304.

G.  Right to Receive Notice of a Breach.

If your unsecured Protected Health Information is acquired, used or disclosed in a manner that is impermissible under the Privacy Rules, then we must notify you of the breach within 60 days following the date that we learn of such breach. The exception to this requirement is if we determine that there is a low probability that your Protected Health Information has been compromised by the unauthorized disclosure. For more information on this rule, please contact the Privacy Officer at Children’s Health Council, 650 Clark Way, Palo Alto, CA 94304. Unsecured Protected Health Information is Protected Health Information that has not been encrypted or destroyed.

V.  Confidentiality of Substance Abuse Records

For individuals who have received treatment, diagnosis or referral for treatment from our drug or alcohol abuse programs, federal law and regulations protect the confidentiality of drug or alcohol abuse records.  As a general rule, we may not tell a person outside the programs that you attend any of these programs, or disclose any information identifying you as an alcohol or drug abuser, unless:

  • you authorize the disclosure in writing; or
  • the disclosure is permitted by a court order; or
  • the disclosure is made to medical personnel in a medical emergency or to qualified personnel for research, audit or program evaluation purposes; or
  • you threaten to commit a crime either at the drug abuse or alcohol program or against any person who works for our drug abuse or alcohol programs.

A violation by us of the federal law and regulations governing drug or alcohol abuse is a crime.  Suspected violations may be reported to the Unites States Attorney in the district where the violation occurs.  Federal law and regulations governing confidentiality of drug or alcohol abuse permit us to report suspected child abuse or neglect under state law to appropriate state or local authorities.  Please see 42 USC § 290dd-2 for federal law and 42 C.F.R., Part 2 for federal regulations governing confidentiality of alcohol and drug abuse patient records.

VI. Complaints

If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you may file a complaint with us or with the Secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.  To file a complaint with us, contact our office responsible for receiving complaints at Children’s Health Council, 650 Clark Way, Palo Alto, CA 94304 (650.838.9150).  All complaints must be submitted in writing.   Our Privacy Officer, who can be contacted at 650 Clark Way, Palo Alto, CA 94304will assist you with writing your complaint, if you request such assistance.  We will not retaliate against you for filing a complaint.

VII. Changes to this Notice

We reserve the right to change the terms of our Notice of Privacy Practices.  We also reserve the right to make the revised or changed Notice of Privacy Practices effective for all Protected Health Information we already have about you as well as any Protected Health Information we receive in the future.  We will post a copy of the current Notice of Privacy Practices at our main office and at each site where we provide care.  You may also obtain a copy of the current Notice of Privacy Practices by accessing our website at www.chconline.org or by calling us at 650.688.3612 requesting that a copy be sent to you in the mail or by asking for one any time you are at our offices. If you have any questions about this Privacy Notice, please contact our Privacy Officer at 650.688.3612 or email HIPAA@chconline.org.