Notice of Privacy Practices
THIS NOTICE DESCRIBES HOW MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED AND HOW YOU CAN OBTAIN ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION. PLEASE REVIEW IT CAREFULLY.
Mercy Health Services* (“MHS”) is required by law to maintain the privacy of identifiable information that relates to your physical or mental health, the health care you have received, or payment for your health care. As required by law, this notice provides you with information about your rights and our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to medical information. This notice also discusses the uses and disclosures MHS will make of your medical information. MHS must comply with the provisions of this notice, although MHS reserves the right to change the terms of this notice from time to time and to make the revised notice effective for all medical information that MHS maintains. You can always request a dated copy of our most current privacy notice from any of our facilities or you can access it on our website at www.MDmercy.com.
Permitted Uses & Disclosures
MHS may use or disclose medical information about you, without your authorization, for purposes related to/for:
- Treatment: Treatment means the coordination of your care between various healthcare providers and specialists for consultations. For example, a doctor treating you for a broken leg may need to know if you have diabetes because diabetes may slow the healing process. Therefore, the doctor may review your medical records to assess whether you have potentially complicating conditions such as diabetes.
- Payment: Payment refers to activities related to verifying your level of insurance benefits, requesting authorizations for treatment and referrals for special tests, and billing/administrative purposes. For example, MHS may need to provide information to your insurance plan about your medical condition in order to determine whether the proposed course of treatment will be covered.
- Health Care Operations: Health care operations include quality assurance, case management, patient complaints, audits, and physician reviews. For example, MHS may use your medical information to evaluate the performance of our staff in caring for you.
- Friends/Family: When friends/family are involved in your care or payment for your care, MHS may allow them to pick up medical supplies, x-rays, or filled prescriptions on your behalf. We may also include certain non-treatment information in a facility directory. If you are available, we will allow you to object to these disclosures. If you are unavailable, MHS will use professional judgment to determine what is in your best interest.
- Appointments & Other Health Benefits: MHS may contact you to remind you about your appointments and bring to your attention alternative treatment suggestions and other health related benefits.
- Fundraising: MHS may contact you as part of our fundraising efforts to support our healthcare mission. You have a right to opt out of receiving such information.
- Organ & Tissue Donation: MHS may disclose your medical information to organizations that handle organ and tissue procurement and donations.
- Military Authorities: If you are a member of the U.S. Armed Forces or foreign military, MHS may release medical information about you to appropriate military command authorities.
- Workers' Compensation: MHS may disclose medical information to comply with workers' compensation laws.
- Public Health Risks: MHS may disclose your medical information to public health officials for the purpose of preventing or controlling disease, injury or disability, including reporting suspected child abuse or neglect.
- Health Oversight: MHS may disclose your medical information to federal or state agencies that oversee the health care system, government programs, and enforcement of civil rights laws for activities such as audits, investigations, or inspections.
- Legal Proceedings: MHS may disclose your medical information in response to a court order, subpoena, or other lawful process.
- Law Enforcement: MHS may disclose your medical information to law enforcement officials to aid in the search for a criminal or fugitive or a criminal investigation.
- Coroners, Medical Examiners, and Funeral Directors: MHS may disclose your medical information to identify a deceased person, determine cause of death, and to help funeral directors carry out their duties.
- National Security: MHS may disclose your medical information to authorized federal authorities for national security activities permissible by law or to protect the President of the United States or other authorized persons.
- Inmates: MHS may provide a correctional facility with an inmate’s medical information for their health care and to protect the health and safety of others.
- Research: MHS may disclose your medical information to researchers that have received proper approval from our research review board.
- Health or Safety: As permitted by applicable law and ethical conduct, MHS may use and disclose medical information if its staff believes, in good faith, that such use or disclosure is necessary to prevent serious harm to you and to others. We may share your information for disaster relief efforts or in emergency situations.
- Maryland Health Information Exchange/CRISP: MHS has chosen to participate in the Chesapeake Regional Information System for our Patients, Inc. (CRISP), a statewide internet-based health information exchange. As permitted by law, your health information will be shared with this exchange in order to provide faster access, better coordination of care and assist providers and public health officials in making more informed decisions. You may “opt-out” and prevent searching of your health information available through CRISP by calling 1-877-952-7477 or completing and submitting an Opt-Out form to CRISP by mail, fax or through their website at www.crisphealth.org
Other uses and disclosures of your health information will be made only with your authorization. You have the right to revoke such authorization. Uses and disclosures for which an authorization is required include:
As a patient of Mercy Health Services, you have the right to:
- Psychotherapy Notes. MHS must obtain an authorization for any use or disclosure of your psychotherapy notes except as required by law or to carry out the following treatment, payment or health care operations:
- Use by the originator of the psychotherapy notes for treatment;
- Use or disclosure by MHS for its own training programs in which students, trainees or practitioners in mental health learn under supervision to practice or improve their skills in group, joint, family, or individual counseling; or
- Use or disclosure by MHS to defend itself in a legal action or other proceeding brought by you.
- Marketing. MHS must obtain an authorization for any use or disclosure of protected health information for marketing purposes except if the communication is in the form of a face to face communication made by MHS or an MHS workforce member to you, or a promotion gift of minimal or nominal value provided to you by MHS.
- Sale of Protected Health Information. MHS must obtain an authorization for any disclosure of protected health information which would amount to a sale of protected health information.
As a patient of Mercy Health Services, you have the right to:
- Request to view and request a copy of your medical records. A fee may be charged for the cost of copying or mailing your records; however, you will not be denied copies if you cannot afford to pay for them.
- Request to amend your medical information.
- Request an accounting of certain disclosures of medical information.
- Opt out of our facility directory.
- Opt out of receiving fundraising communications by notifying the Mercy Health Foundation at 410-332-9874 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Request restrictions on our use of your medical information for treatment, payment, health care operations and friends/family; however MHS is not required to accept your request. MHS is required to agree to restrictions on disclosures of your medical information to a health plan for payment purposes related to a specific service when you have prepaid for the service(s) in full; however, if the service is part of a group of services “bundled” for health plan billing purposes, it may not be possible for MHS to restrict the disclosure.
- Request that MHS communicate with you in a certain way or at a certain location for confidentiality.
- Receive this Notice of Privacy Practices in a paper copy, even if you initially received it in an electronic format or viewed it on MHS’ website.
Mercy Health Service’s Duties
We are required by law to maintain the privacy of your protected health information, and to provide you with a copy of our Privacy Practices and to notify you in the event of a breach of your protected health information. We are required by law to abide by the statements within this Notice of Privacy Practices, effective August 1, 2013. Mercy Health Services reserves the right to make any necessary changes and updates to our Privacy Practices, and these new provisions affect all protected health information that we maintain. If we change any of our Privacy Practices, an updated Notice of Privacy Practices will be made available upon request and posted in a clear and prominent location.
Should you have a complaint, question, or feel that your privacy rights have been violated, please contact our Privacy Officer at (410) 576-LAWS (5297). You may also file a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights at (866) 627-7748. We will not retaliate against you for filing a complaint.
* For purposes of this Notice, "Mercy Health Services" includes Mercy Medical Center, Inc., Stella Maris, Inc., St. Paul Place Specialists, Inc., Maryland Family Care, Inc., and other affiliated health care providers.