Our pledge regarding medical information
We understand that medical information about you and your health is personal. We are committed to protecting medical information about you. We create a record of the care and services you receive from Frio Regional Hospital, Home Health, and Rehabilitation. We need this record to provide you with quality care and to comply with certain legal requirements. This notice applies to all of the records of your care generated by Frio Regional Hospital, Home Health, and Rehabilitation, whether made by Frio Regional Hospital, Home Health, and Rehabilitation or another provider that you were referred to. Other physicians you may see in the course of your treatment may have different policies or notices regarding the doctor's use and disclosure of your medical information created in the doctor's office or clinic.
This notice will tell you about the ways in which we may use and disclose medical information about you. We also describe your rights and certain obligations we have regarding the use and disclosure of medical information.
Law requires us to make sure that medical information that identifies you is kept private, we give you this notice of our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to medical information about you, and we follow the terms of the notice that is currently in effect.
How we may use and disclose medical information about you
The following categories describe different ways that we use and disclose medical information. For each category of uses or disclosures, we will explain what we mean and try to give some examples. Not every use or disclosure in a category will be listed. However, all of the ways we are permitted to use and disclose information will fall within one of the categories.
- For treatment. We may use medical information about you to provide you with medical treatment or services. We may disclose medical information about you to doctors, nurses, technicians, medical students or other hospital personnel who are involved in taking care of you. 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. In addition, the doctor may need to tell the dietitian if you have diabetes so that we can arrange for appropriate meals. Different departments of the hospital also may share medical information about you in order to coordinate the different things you need, such as prescriptions, lab work and x-rays. We also may disclose medical information about you to people outside the hospital who may be involved in your medical care after you leave the hospital, such as family members, clergy or others we use to provide services that are part of your care.
- For payment. We may use and disclose medical information about you so that the treatment and services you receive at Frio Regional Hospital, Home Health and Rehabilitation may be billed to and payment may be collected from you, an insurance company or a third party. For example, we may need to give out your healthcare information about treatment that you received at Frio Regional Hospital, Home Health, and Rehabilitation, so your health plan will pay us or reimburse you for the care. We may also tell your health plan about a treatment or service you are going to receive to obtain prior approval, or to determine whether your plan will cover the treatment.
- For healthcare operations. We may use and disclose medical information about you for Frio Regional Hospital, Home Health, and Rehabilitation operations. These uses and disclosures are necessary to run Frio Regional Hospital, Home Health, and Rehabilitation and make sure that all of our patients receive quality care. For example, we may use medical information to review our treatment and services and to evaluate the performance of our staff in caring for you. We may also combine medical information about many patients to decide what additional services Frio Regional Hospital, Home Health, and Rehabilitation should offer, what services are not needed, and whether certain new treatments are effective. We may also disclose information to doctors, nurses, technicians, medical students and other Frio Regional Hospital, Home Health, and Rehabilitation personnel for review and learning purposes. We may also combine the medical information we have with medical information from other health providers to compare how we are doing and see where we can make improvements in the care and services we offer. We may remove information that identifies you from this set of medical information so others may use it to study healthcare and healthcare delivery without learning who the specific patients are.
- Appointment reminders. We may use and disclose medical information to contact you as a reminder that you have an appointment for medical care.
- Treatment alternatives. We may use and disclose medical information to tell you about or recommend possible treatment options or alternatives that may be of interest to you.
- Health-related benefits and services. We may use and disclose medical information to tell you about health-related benefits or services that may be of interest to you.
- Fundraising activities. We may use medical information about you to contact you in an effort to raise money for Frio Regional Hospital, Home Health, and Rehabilitation and its operations. We may disclose medical information to a foundation related to Frio Regional Hospital, Home Health, and Rehabilitation so that the foundation may contact you while raising money for Frio Regional Hospital, Home Health, and Rehabilitation. We only would release contact information, such as your name, address and phone number and the dates you received treatment or services at Frio Regional Hospital, Home Health, and Rehabilitation. If you do not want Frio Regional Hospital, Home Health, and Rehabilitation to contact you for fundraising efforts, you must notify the administrator in writing.
- Individuals involved in your care or payment for your care. We may release medical information about you to a friend or family member who is involved in your medical care. We may also give information to someone who helps pay for your care. In addition, we may disclose medical information about you to an entity assisting in a disaster relief effort so that your family can be notified about your condition, status and location.
- Research. Under certain circumstances, we may use and disclose medical information about you for research purposes. For example, a research project may involve comparing the health and recovery of patients who received one medication to those who received another for the same condition. All research projects, however, are subject to a special approval process. This process evaluates a proposed research project and its use of medical information, trying to balance the research needs with the patient's need for privacy. Before we use or disclose medical information for research, the project will have been approved through this research approval process; however, we may disclose medical information about you to people preparing to conduct a research project—for example, to help them look for patients with specific medical needs—so long as the medical information they review does not leave Frio Regional Hospital, Home Health, and Rehabilitation. We will almost always ask for your specific permission if the researcher will have access to your name, address or other information that reveals who you are, or will be involved in your case with Frio Regional Hospital, Home Health, and Rehabilitation.
- As required by law. We will disclose medical information about you when required to do so by federal, state or local law.
- To avert a serious threat to health or safety. We may use and disclose medical information about you when necessary to prevent a serious threat to your health and safety or the health and safety of the public or another person. Any disclosure, however, would only be to someone able to help prevent the threat.
Organ and tissue donation. If you are an organ donor, we may release 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.
Workers' compensation. We may release medical information about you for workers' compensation or similar programs. These programs provide benefits for work-related injuries or illness.
Public health risks. We may disclose medical information about you for public health activities. These activities generally include the following:
- To prevent or control disease, injury or disability.
- To report births and deaths.
- To report child abuse or neglect.
- 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 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.
Health oversight activities. We may disclose medical information to a health oversight agency for activities authorized by law. These oversight activities include, for example, audits, investigations, inspections and licensure. These activities are necessary for the government to monitor the healthcare system, government programs and compliance with civil rights laws.
Lawsuits and disputes. If you are involved in a lawsuit or a dispute, we may disclose medical information about you in response to a court or administrative order. We may also disclose medical information about you in response to a subpoena, discovery request or other lawful process by someone else involved in the dispute, but only if efforts have been made to tell you about the request or to obtain an order protecting the information requested.
Law enforcement. We may release medical information if asked to do so by a law enforcement official:
- In response to a court order, subpoena, warrant, summons or similar process.
- To identify or locate a suspect, fugitive, material witness or missing person.
- About the victim of a crime if, under certain limited circumstances, we are unable to obtain the person's agreement.
- About a death we believe may be the result of criminal conduct.
- About criminal conduct at Frio Regional Hospital, Home Health, and Rehabilitation.
- In emergency circumstances to report a crime; the location of the crime or victims; or the identity, description or location of the person who committed the crime.
Coroners, medical examiners and funeral directors. We may release 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 patients of Frio Regional Hospital, Home Health, and Rehabilitation to funeral directors as necessary to carry out their duties.
National security and intelligence activities. We may release medical information about you to authorized federal officials for intelligence, counterintelligence and other national security activities authorized by law.
Protective services for the President and others. We may disclose medical information about you to authorized federal officials so they may provide protection to the President, other authorized persons or foreign heads of state, or conduct special investigations.
Inmates. If you are an inmate of a correctional institution or under the custody of a law enforcement official, we may release medical information about you to the correctional institution or law enforcement official. This release would be necessary (1) for the institution to provide you with healthcare; (2) to protect your health and safety or the health and safety of others; or (3) for the safety and security of the correctional institution.
Your rights regarding medical information about you
You have the following rights regarding medical information we maintain about you:
Right to inspect and copy. You have the right to inspect and copy medical information that may be used to make decisions about your care. Usually, this includes medical and billing records, but does not include psychotherapy notes.
To inspect and copy medical information that may be used to make decisions about you, you must submit your request in writing to Medical Records. If you request a copy of the information, we may charge a fee for the costs of copying, mailing or other supplies associated with your request.
We may deny your request to inspect and copy in certain very limited circumstances. If you are denied access to medical information, you may request that the denial be reviewed. Another licensed healthcare professional chosen by Frio Regional Hospital, Home Health, and Rehabilitation will review your request and the denial. The person conducting the review will not be the person who denied your request. We will comply with the outcome of the review.
Right to amend. If you feel that medical information we have about you is incorrect or incomplete, you may ask us to amend the information. You have the right to request an amendment for as long as the information is kept by or for the Frio Regional Hospital, Home Health, and Rehabilitation.
To request an amendment, your request must be made in writing and submitted to Medical Records. In addition, you must provide a reason that supports your request.
We may deny your request for an amendment if it is not in writing or does not include a reason to support the request. In addition, we may deny your request if you ask us to amend information that:
- Was not created by us, unless the person or entity that created the information is no longer available to make the amendment.
- Is not part of the medical information kept by or for Frio Regional Hospital, Home Health, and Rehabilitation.
- Is not part of the information which you would be permitted to inspect and copy.
- Is accurate and complete.
Right to an accounting of disclosures. You have the right to request an "accounting of disclosures." This is a list of the disclosures we made of medical information about you.
To request this list or accounting of disclosures, you must submit your request in writing to the Medical Records supervisor. Your request must state a time period, which may not be longer than six (6) years and may not include dates before February 26, 2003. Your request should indicate in what form you want the list (for example, on paper, electronically). The first list you request within a 12-month period will be free. For additional lists, we may charge you for the costs of providing the list. We will notify you of the cost involved, and you may choose to withdraw or modify your request at that time before any costs are incurred.
Right to request restrictions. You have the right to request a restriction or limitation on the medical information we use or disclose about you for treatment, payment or healthcare operations. You also have the right to request a limit on 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 use or disclose information about care you had.
We are not required to agree to your request. If we do agree, we will comply with your request unless the information is needed to provide you emergency treatment.
To request restrictions, you must make your request in writing to the Medical Records supervisor. 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, for example, disclosures to your spouse.
Right to request confidential communications. You have the right to request that we communicate with you about medical matters in a certain way or at a certain location. For example, you can ask that we only contact you at work or by mail.
To request confidential communications, you must make your request in writing to the Medical Records supervisor. We will not ask you the reason for your request. We will accommodate all reasonable requests. Your request must specify how or where you wish to be contacted.
Right to a paper copy of this notice. You have the right to a paper copy of this notice. You may ask us to give you a copy of this notice at any time.
Changes to this notice
We reserve the right to change this notice. We reserve the right to make the revised or changed notice effective for medical information we already have about you as well as any information we receive in the future. We will post a copy of the current notice in the waiting room. The notice will contain on the first page, in the top right-hand corner, the effective date. In addition, each time you register at the front desk for treatment or healthcare services as an inpatient or outpatient, we will offer you a copy of the current notice in effect.
If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you may file a complaint with Frio Regional Hospital, Home Health, and Rehabilitation or with the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
To file a complaint with Frio Regional Hospital, Home Health, and Rehabilitation, contact:
Andrew Williams, CEO, or Gloria Aguilar, Privacy Officer
200 S. IH-35
Pearsall, Texas 78061
All complaints must be submitted in writing. You will not be penalized for filing a complaint.
Other uses of medical information
Other uses and disclosures of medical information not covered by this notice or the laws that apply to us will be made only with your written permission. If you provide us permission to use or disclose medical information about you, you may revoke that permission, in writing, at any time. If you revoke your permission, we will no longer use or disclose medical information about you for the reasons covered by your written authorization. You understand that we are unable to take back any disclosures we have already made with your permission, and that we are required to retain our records of the care that we provided to you.