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 READ THIS NOTICE CAREFULLY.
If you have any questions about this Notice of Privacy Practices, please ask a member of the staff where you receive healthcare services. You may also contact our Privacy Office at 864.560.6321.
SPARTANBURG REGIONAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEM (SRHS) IS COMMITTED TO YOUR PRIVACY
At Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, we keep medical information about you to help us provide your care and to meet legal requirements. We also understand that your medical information is private.
The law requires us to:
• protect your medical information
• give you this notice
• follow the terms of the notice
DEFINITION OF TERMS
In this document we will use words that will have the following meaning:
• “Notice” is used to refer to this Notice of Privacy Practices
• “SRHS” means Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, together with its medical staff and affiliated organizations listed at the end of this notice
• “we,” “our,” or “us,” means one or more of the SRHS organizations and their individual licensed providers and staff
• “you” means the patient who is the subject of the medical information
• “medical information” includes all paper and electronic records of your care that identify you and relate to your past, present, or future physical or mental health condition, including information about payment and billing for your healthcare services
• “use” means sharing or using your medical information within SRHS
• “share” or “disclose” means to release, give access to or provide your medical information to someone outside SRHS
HOW WE MAY USE AND SHARE INFORMATION ABOUT YOU
SRHS and its medical staff; employed healthcare professionals including physicians, nurses, care partners, other employees; trainees and students; volunteers; and business associates follow the terms of this notice. SRHS uses electronic record systems to more efficiently and safely coordinate your care across many individuals and locations. Physical and technical safeguards are used to protect the information in these systems. SRHS also uses policies and training to restrict use of your information to only those who need it to do their job.
Doctors and other people who are not employed by SRHS may share information about you with SRHS employees in order to provide your health care. These non-SRHS caregivers may also give you their notices that describe their privacy practices for information they maintain outside of SRHS.
All of these hospitals, clinics, doctors, and other caregivers, programs and services may share your medical information with each other for treatment, payment and healthcare operations purposes. The general ways that we can use and share your information are described below. While we cannot list every specific use, we have given examples under each general category.
Treatment: We may use and share your medical information to provide you with health-care services. For example, a doctor treating you for a broken leg will need to know if you have diabetes because diabetes may slow the healing process. The doctor may need to tell someone who works in food service that you have diabetes, so we can prepare the right meals for you. We may also share medical information about you in order to provide you with items and services such as medicine, lab tests and X-rays, and to make arrangements for transportation, home care, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, medical devices or equipment experts, or with community agencies and family members. This medical information may be shared when needed in order to plan for your care after you leave SRHS.
Payment: We may use and share your information so that SRHS or other healthcare providers that have provided services to you, such as an ambulance company, may bill and collect payment for those services. For example, we may share your medical information with your health plan, so your health plan will pay for care you received at SRHS, or to obtain prior approval for a procedure, or to allow your health plan to review your records to make sure they have paid the correct amount to SRHS. We may also share your information with a collection agency when needed in order to collect an overdue payment. As a patient, you now have the right to request by written letter that we not disclose to an insurer treatment and/or services you pay for with your personal funds only. If you wish to make this request, please contact the Privacy Office by sending a written letter to the location below.
Healthcare Operations: We may use and share information about you for business tasks necessary to operate SRHS. Whenever practical we may remove information that identifies you. For example we may use or share your medical information:
• to comply with laws and regulations
• for healthcare training and education
• to perform credentialing, licensure, certification and accreditation functions
• to improve our care and service
• for our budgeting and planning
• for legal services and compliance programs
• to conduct audits
• to maintain computer systems
• to evaluate the performance of our staff in caring for you
• to make decisions about additional services SRHS should offer
• to do patient satisfaction surveys
• to bill and collect payment
When information is shared with outside parties (called “business associates”) who perform these tasks on behalf of SRHS, the business associates are also required to protect and restrict use of your medical information.
Contacting You about Appointments, Insurance and Other Matters: We may contact you by mail, phone, or email about appointments, registration questions, insurance updates, billing or payment matters, test results, to follow up about care received, or to ask about the quality of the services we have provided to you. We may leave voice messages at the telephone number you give to us.
Treatment Alternatives or Health News and Services: We may use or share your information to inform you about treatment options or health-related products or services that may interest you.
Fundraising Activities: We may use your name, address, phone number and the dates you received services at SRHS to contact you in an effort to raise money to support SRHS. If you do not want us to contact you for fundraising efforts, you must notify us.
Hospital Directory: If you are admitted to the hospital, your name, location in the hospital, general condition, such as “fair” or “stable,” and your religion is included in our hospital patient directory at the information desk. This helps your family, friends and clergy visit you and learn your general condition. This general information, except your religion, may be released to visitors or phone callers who ask for you by name. Unless you tell us not to, your stated religion may be given to a member of the clergy, such as a priest or rabbi, even if they don’t ask for you by name. You may ask to have your name removed from the directory list, and we will not release this general information even if you are asked for by name.
Family Members and Friends Involved in Your Care or Payment for Your Care: We may share information about you with family members and friends who are involved in your care or payment for your care. Whenever possible, we will allow you to tell us who you would like to be involved in your care. However, in emergencies or other situations in which you are unable to tell us who to share information with, we will use our best judgment and share only information that others need to know. We may also share information about you with a public or private agency during a disaster, so the agency can help contact your family or friends about your location and tell them how you are doing.
Research: We may use and disclose medical information about you for the research we conduct in order to improve public health and develop new knowledge. For example, a research project may compare the health and recovery of patients who received one medicine for an illness to those who received a different medicine for the same illness. We use and share your information for research only as allowed by federal and state rules. Each research project is approved through a special process that balances the research needs with the patient’s need for privacy. In most cases, if the research involves your care or the sharing of your medical information, we will first explain to you how your information will be used and ask for your consent to use the information. We may access your medical information before the approval process to design the research project and provide the information needed for approval. Health information used to prepare a research project, does not leave SRHS.
To Stop a Serious Threat to Health or Safety: When necessary to prevent a serious and urgent threat to the health and safety of you or someone else, we may share your medical information. For example, threats of harming another person may be reported to the police or other proper authorities.
Organ, Eye and Tissue Donation: We share medical information about organ, eye, or tissue donors and about the patients who need those organs, eyes or tissues with others involved in obtaining, storing and transplanting organs, eyes and tissues.
Military and Veterans: If you are a member of the armed forces, we may share your medical information with the military as authorized or required by law. We may also release information about foreign military personnel to the proper foreign military authority.
Workers’ Compensation: We may share medical information about you with those who need it in order to provide benefits for work-related injuries or illness.
Health Oversight Activities and Public Health Reporting: We may share information with health oversight agencies for activities like audits, investigations, inspections and review of requirements to obtain a license. We may also share your medical information to file reports with state public health authorities, agencies such as cancer registries, and the federal Food and Drug Administration.
Some examples of the reasons for these reports are:
• to prevent or control disease and injuries
• to report events such as births and deaths
• to report child abuse or neglect of children, elders and dependent adults
• to report reactions to medications or problems with products
• 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 spread a disease
• to notify the appropriate authority if we believe a patient has been the victim of abuse, neglect or domestic violence
Lawsuits and Disputes: We may share your medical information as directed by a court order, subpoena, discovery request, warrant, summons, or other lawful instructions from a court or public body when needed for a legal or administrative proceeding.
Law Enforcement: We may release your medical information to a law enforcement official, as authorized or required by law:
• in response to a court order, subpoena, warrant, summons or similar process
• to identify or locate a suspect, fugitive, material witness or missing person
• if you are suspected to be a victim of a crime, generally with your permission
• about a death we believe may be the result of a crime
• about criminal conduct at the hospital
• in an emergency, to report a crime; the location of the crime or victims; or the
identity, description or location of the person who committed the crime
We May Share Your Information with:
• coroners, medical examiners and funeral directors, so they can carry out their
• federal officials for national security and intelligence activities
• federal officials who provide protective services for the president and others such as foreign heads of state, or to conduct special investigations
• a correctional institution if you are an inmate
• a law enforcement official if you are under the custody of the police or other law enforcement official
OTHER USES OF YOUR MEDICAL INFORMATION
We will not use or share your medical information for reasons other than those described above without your written consent. For example, you may want us to give medical information to your employer or to your child’s school. We will share your medical information for purposes like this only if you give your written approval. You may revoke the approval, in writing, at any time, but we cannot take back any medical information that has already been shared with your approval.
YOUR RIGHTS REGARDING YOUR MEDICAL INFORMATION
The records we create and maintain using your medical information belong to SRHS, but you have the following rights:
Right to Review and Get a Copy of Your Medical Information: You have the right to look at and get a copy of your medical information, including billing records. You must first make your request in writing to Medical Information Services at the address provided at the end of this notice. We may charge a fee to cover copying, mailing, and other costs and supplies used to respond to your request. We may deny your request for certain information in very limited cases. If we deny your request, we will give you the reason for the denial in writing. In some cases, you may request that the denial be reviewed by a licensed healthcare professional chosen by SRHS.
Right to Ask for a Change of Your Medical Information: If you think our information about you is not correct or not complete, you may ask us to correct the record by writing to Medical Information Services at the address listed at the end of this notice. Your written request must give the reason you ask for a correction. We have 60 days to respond to your request. If we accept your request, we will tell you we agree and add the correction. We cannot take anything out of the record. We can add new information to complete or correct the existing information. With your help, we will notify others who have the incorrect or incomplete medical information. If we deny your request, we will tell you in writing the reasons. If we deny your request, you have the right to submit a written statement of 250 words or less that tells what you believe is not correct or is missing. We will add your written statement to your records and include it whenever we share the part of your medical record that your written statement relates to.
Right to Ask for an Accounting of Disclosures: You have the right to request a list of when your medical information was shared without your written consent.
This list will not include uses or disclosures:
• to carry out treatment, payment or healthcare operations
• to you or your personal representative
• to those who request your information as listed in hospital directories
• to your family members or friends who are involved in your care
• as required or permitted by law as described above
• as part of a limited data set with direct identifiers removed
• released before April 14, 2003
Any request for this list must be made in writing to the Privacy Office at the address listed at the end of this notice. Your request must state the time period for which you want the list. The time period may not be longer than six years and may not begin before April 14, 2003. The first list you request within a 12-month period will be free. We will charge you a fee for additional requests in that same period.
Right to Ask for Limits on the Use and Sharing of Your Medical Information: You have the right to ask that we limit our use or sharing of information about you for treatment, payment or healthcare operations. You also have the right to ask us to limit the medical information we disclose about you to someone who is involved in your care or the payment for your care, like a family member or friend. For example, you could ask that we not share information about a surgery you had. We reserve the right to accept or reject your request. Generally, we will not accept restrictions for treatment, payment or healthcare operations, with one exception. We must approve your request if you have paid out-of-pocket in full for all expenses for a particular item or service. We will notify you if we do not agree to your request. If we do agree, our agreement must be in writing, and we will comply with the restriction unless the information is needed to provide emergency treatment for you. We are allowed to end the restriction if we tell you. If we end the restriction, it will only affect medical information that was created or received after we notify you.
You must submit your request to restrict the use and sharing of your medical information in writing to the Privacy Office at the address listed at the end of this notice. In your request, you must tell us (1) what information you want to limit (2) whether you want to limit our use, disclosure or both and (3) to whom you want the limits to apply.
Right to Ask for Confidential Communications: You have the right to ask us to communicate with you in a certain way or at a certain location. For example, you can ask that we contact you only at work or at a post office box. You must make your request in writing to the Privacy Office at the address given at the end of this notice. You do not need to tell us the reason for your request. Your request must specify how or where you wish to be contacted. You will also be required to tell us what address to send bills to for payment. We will accept all reasonable requests. However, if we are unable to contact you using the requested ways or locations, we may contact you using any information we have.
Right to Get a Paper Copy of This Notice: You have the right to get a paper copy of this notice, even if you have agreed to receive this notice electronically. You may get a copy at any of our facilities, by contacting the Privacy Office at the number below or at the SRHS website, http://www.spartanburgregional.com.
CHANGES TO THIS NOTICE
We have the right to change this notice at any time. Any change could apply to medical information we already have about you as well as any information we receive in the future. The effective date of this notice is on the first page. We will post a copy of the current notice throughout SRHS and on the SRHS website, http://www.spartanburgregional.com.
HOW TO ASK A QUESTION OR REPORT A COMPLAINT
If you have questions about this notice or want to talk about a problem without filing a formal complaint, please contact the Privacy Office at 864.560.6321. If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you may file a written complaint with us. Please send it to the SRHS Privacy Official at the address listed below. You may also file a complaint with SRHS Patient Affairs or the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services at the addresses listed below.
You will not be treated differently for filing a complaint.
HOW TO CONTACT US:
SRHS Privacy Office, SRHS Medical Information Services, SRHS Patient Affairs
Office for Civil Rights Region IV
Roosevelt Freeman, Regional Manager
Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Atlanta Federal Center, Suite 3B70
61 Forsyth Street,
Atlanta, GA 30303-8909
Voice Phone 404-562-7886