Notice of Privacy Practices
THIS NOTICE DESCRIBES HOW MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED AND HOW YOU CAN GET ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION. PLEASE REVIEW IT CAREFULLY.
This Notice is effective June 17, 2013, and replaces all earlier versions.
Benefis Health System is committed to protecting your privacy and the confidentiality of your health information. This Notice describes how we may use and share health information, our legal obligations related to such information, as well as your rights to access and further protect health information about you. As required by law, Benefis must maintain the privacy of your health information, provide you with this Notice as to our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to protected health information, and abide by the terms of this Notice currently in effect.
This Notice applies to Benefis Health System (hereafter “Benefis”), including all service locations owned and/or operated by Benefis including, but not limited to, Benefis Hospitals, Inc., Benefis Senior Services, Inc., Benefis Medical Group, Inc., and Benefis Spectrum Medical, Inc.
Your Health Information Rights
- Right to a Paper Copy of This Notice: You have the right to obtain a paper copy of this Notice upon request, even if you have previously agreed to receive this Notice electronically. You can always request a paper copy of the current version of this Notice from Benefis Medical Record Department.
- Right to Inspect and Copy: With certain exceptions, you have the right to inspect and obtain a copy of your health records, in accordance with applicable federal and state law. If we maintain your health information electronically, you have the right to obtain a copy of your health information in an electronic format. You may also request that we transmit a copy of your health information to other individuals or entities that you have designated. However, this right is subject to a few exceptions, including disclosures of psychotherapy notes, information collected for certain legal proceedings, and any health information restricted by law.
In order to inspect and copy your health information, you must submit your written request to the Benefis Medical Records Department. We may charge you a reasonable fee for the cost of copying and mailing your records. If you are denied a request for access, you have the right to have the denial reviewed in accordance with the requirements of applicable law.
- Right to Request an Amendment: You have the right to request an amendment or correction to your health records, in accordance with applicable federal and state law. A request for amendment must be submitted in writing to the Benefis Medical Record Department, along with a description of the reason for your request. Benefis may deny your request; however, if your request is denied, we will provide you with a written denial in accordance with applicable law.
- Right to Request a Restriction: You have the right to request a restriction on Benefis’ uses and disclosures of your health information. In general, Benefis is not required to grant your request. However, it must agree not to disclose your health information to a health plan for payment or health care operations purposes provided that the information pertains solely to a health care item or service for which you, or a person on your behalf, has paid us in full and the disclosure is not otherwise required by law. Any request for restriction must be submitted in writing to Benefis Medical Record Department.
- Right to Request Confidential Communications: You have the right to request that we communicate with you about your health matters by alternative means or to alternative locations. To make such a request, you must submit your request in writing to Benefis Medical Record Department.
- Right to an Accounting of Disclosures: You have the right to obtain an accounting of disclosures of your health information made by us to individuals or entities other than you, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. To request an accounting of disclosures of your health information, you must submit your request in writing to Benefis Medical Record Department.
- Right to Notification of a Breach: We will notify you of any breach of your unsecured protected health information, as required by law.
How Benefis May Use and Disclose Health Information About You
Benefis keeps a record of the health care services we provide for you. We will not disclose your health record to others unless you direct us or the law authorizes or compels us to do so. For instance, we are generally permitted to use and disclose your health information for treatment, payment, and health care operations purposes, and we may share health information between Benefis entities as necessary to carry out these purposes. This Notice includes a description and an example for each of these categories. Some sensitive information, such as HIV-related information, genetic information, substance abuse records, and mental health records may be entitled to special confidentiality protections under applicable state or federal law. Benefis will abide by these special protections as they pertain to sensitive information in your health records.
Treatment: We may use and disclose your health information to provide you with treatment and health care services. For example, we may disclose information about you to doctors, nurses, technicians, or other personnel involved in your care. We may also share this information about you with other agencies or entities in order to meet your medical needs, such as providing you with prescriptions, lab work, or continuing medical care after you leave Benefis. Sharing your information for this purpose gives your health care providers the information they need to provide you with appropriate care.
Payment: We may use and disclose your health information to obtain reimbursement for the treatment and services you receive from us or another entity involved with your care, such as an ambulance company. Payment activities include billing, collections, and determinations of eligibility to obtain payment from you, an insurance company, or another third party. For example, Benefis may send a bill to your insurance company, and the bill may include your name, diagnosis, and procedures used to treat you. If state or federal law requires us to obtain a written authorization from you prior to disclosing health information for payment purposes, we will ask you to sign an authorization form.
Health Care Operations: We may use and disclose your health information for our health care operations. For example, the medical departments that provided your care may use your health information to assess the care and outcomes in your case and similar cases. We may also combine health information about many patients to determine what additional services Benefis should offer and whether certain new treatments are working.
Directory: Unless you notify us that you object, we may include certain limited information about you, such as your name, location in the facility, general condition, and religious affiliation, for directory purposes while you are a patient within a Benefis facility. The directory information, except for your religious affiliation, may be released to people who ask for you by name. Your religious affiliation may be given to a member of the clergy, such as a priest or rabbi, even if they do not ask for you by name.
Individuals Involved in Your Care or Payment for Your Care: We may disclose your health information to your family or friends or any other individual identified by you when they are involved in your care or in the payment for your care. Additionally, we may disclose information about you to a personal representative. If a person has the authority by law to make health care decisions for you, we will generally treat that personal representative the same way we would treat you with respect to your health information.
To Avert a Serious Threat to Health or Safety: As permitted by applicable law and standards of ethical conduct, we may disclose health information about you when, in good faith, we believe that the disclosure is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious or imminent threat to the health or safety of a person or the public.
Disaster-Relief Efforts: When permitted by law, we may also use and disclose health information about you with other health care providers and entities assisting in a disaster relief effort. If you do not want us to disclose your health information for this purpose, you must communicate this to your caregiver so that we do not disclose this information unless done so in order to properly respond to the emergency.
Worker’s Compensation: We may release your health information for programs that provide benefits for work-related injuries or illnesses, in accordance with applicable law.
Public Health: We may disclose your health information for public health activities including, but not limited to, disclosures to prevent or control disease or injury, report births and deaths, report abuse or neglect, or report reactions to medications or problems with a product.
Health Oversight Activities: We may disclose health information to a health oversight agency for activities authorized by law for which health information is necessary for determining compliance. For example, audits, inspections, and other activities that oversee our activities.
Research: We may use or disclose your health information for research purposes, subject to the requirements of applicable law. All research projects are subject to protocols to continue to protect health information. When required, we will obtain authorization from you prior to using your health information for research.
Fundraising Activities: As permitted by applicable law, we may contact you to provide you with information about our sponsored activities, including fundraising programs. If you do not want Benefis or its related Benefis Health System Foundation to contact you for fundraising efforts, you may opt out of future fundraising efforts by notifying the Benefis Health System Foundation in writing at PO Box 7008, Great Falls, MT 59406 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 406-455-5840.
Coroners, Medical Examiners and Funeral Directors: We may release health information to coroners, medical examiners, and funeral directors as necessary for them to carry out their duties.
Organ and Tissue Donation: If you are an organ donor, we may release health 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, in accordance with applicable law.
Law Enforcement and Correctional Institutions: We may disclose your health information to assist law enforcement officials with their law enforcement duties including, but not limited to, responding to a court order, valid subpoena, summons or similar process, identifying or locating a suspect, or reporting criminal conduct on our premises. If you are an inmate of a correctional institution, we may disclose to the institution or law enforcement officials so that their applicable duties can be carried out under the law.
Military and Veterans: If you are a member of the Armed Forces, domestic or foreign, we may release your health information to military command authorities as authorized or required by law.
National Security and Intelligence Activities: We may release your health information to authorized federal officials for intelligence, counterintelligence, or other national security activities that are authorized by law.
Protective Services for the President and Others: We may disclose your health information to authorized federal officials so that they may provide protection to the President, other authorized persons or foreign heads of state, or to conduct special investigations.
Other Uses of Your Health Information
Other uses and disclosures of health information not covered by this Notice or by the laws that apply to us will be made only with your authorization, including certain marketing activities, sale of health information, and disclosure of psychotherapy notes. You have the right to revoke your authorization at any time, provided that the revocation is in writing, except to the extent that we have already taken action in reliance on your authorization or as authorized by law.
Benefis reserves the right to change this Notice and make the revised Notice effective for health information we already have about you as well as any information we receive in the future. We will post the current Notice, including the effective date. If we amend this Notice, we will provide the revised version on our website, and we will provide you with a copy of the Notice that is currently in effect, upon your request.
If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you can file a complaint with the Benefis Privacy Officer or with the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. There will be no retaliation for filing a complaint. If you have questions or would like additional information, please contact the Benefis Privacy Officer at 406-455-5837.
If you have any questions or would like further information about this Notice, please contact the Benefis Privacy Officer at 406-455-5837 or 1101 26th Street South, Great Falls, MT 59405.