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Alcohol & Drug Services – Confidentiality and the HIPAA Privacy Rule

NOTICE TO PATIENTS

THIS NOTICE DESCRIBES HOW MEDICAL AND DRUG AND ALCOHOL RELATED INFORMATION ABOUT YOU MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED AND HOW YOU CAN GET ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION. 

General Information: Information regarding your health care and treatment, including payment from health care, is protected by two federal laws: the Confidentiality Law, 42, U.S.C. 290dd-2, 42 C.F.R. Part 2 and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) 42 U.S.C. 1320 Et seq., 45 C.F.R Parts 160 & 164 (effective 4/14/03). Under these laws, Alcohol & Drug Services (ADS) may not say to a person outside ADS that you attend the program, nor may ADS disclose any information identifying you as an alcohol or drug treatment patient, or disclose any other protected information except as authorized by you or as permitted by federal law.

ADS must obtain your written consent before it can disclose information about you for payment purposes.  For example, ADS must obtain your written consent before it can disclose information to your health insurer in order to be paid for services.  ADS is also required to obtain your written consent before it can sell information about you or disclose information about you for marketing purposes, and ADS must obtain your written consent before disclosing any of your psychotherapy records.  Generally, you must also sign a written consent before ADS can share information for treatment purposes or for health care operations. However, federal law only permits ADS to disclose information without your written permission under the following circumstances:

1) Pursuant to an agreement with a qualified service organization or business associate who provide services to ADS (e.g. labs for urinalysis testing, records storage, etc.); 2) To medical personnel in a medical emergency; 3) As allowed by a court order; 4) For research purposes, providing certain safeguards are met; 5) To the appropriate authorities to report suspected child abuse or neglect; 6) To report a crime committed on ADS premises or against ADS personnel; and 7) To oversight agencies in order to conduct audits or evaluation for utilization review or quality control purposes (e.g. NC-TOPPS Interviews, accreditation surveys, etc.)

An additional exception to using or disclosing your protected health information without your consent would be for internal program communications.  An example of this would be when ADS staff discloses information about you to other staff members within the agency in order to deliver or coordinate your treatment services.

Before ADS can use or disclose any information about your health in any manner which is not described above, it must first obtain your specific written consent allowing it to make the disclosure.  Any such written consent may be revoked by you in writing, unless ADS has already taken action in reliance on the consent or authorization.

Your Rights: ADS may contact you to provide appointment reminders or information about treatment alternatives or other health-related benefits, but you have the right to request that we communicate with you by alternative means or at an alternative location.  ADS will accommodate such requests that are reasonable and will not request an explanation from you.

Under HIPAA regulations, you also have the right to request restrictions on certain uses and disclosures of your health information.  ADS is not required to agree to any restrictions you request, but if it does agree, then it is bound by that agreement and may not use or disclose any information which you have restricted, except as necessary in a medical emergency.  You also have the right to receive an accounting of disclosures of your health related information made by ADS during the six years prior to your request.

You have the right to inspect and copy your own health information maintained by ADS, except to the extent that the information contains psychotherapy notes or information compiled for use in a civil, criminal or administrative proceeding or in other limited circumstances.  Under HIPAA, you also have the right to request ADS amend health care information maintained in their records.  ADS requires that you make your request in writing and provide a reason to support the amendment request. You also have the right to receive a paper copy of this notice.

Alcohol & Drug Services’ Duties: ADS is required by law to maintain the privacy of your health information and to provide you with notice of its legal duties and privacy practices with respect to your health information.  ADS is required to abide by the terms of this notice and may not redisclose information it has received from other health care providers about you without your signed authorization and/or as allowable under Federal law. ADS reserves the right to change terms of this notice and to make new notice provisions effective for all protected health information it maintains.  Your counselor will provide you with a copy of any revisions to this notice.

Complaints and Reporting Violations: Violation of 42 C.F.R. Part 2 is a reportable crime and may be reported to the United States Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina or to the NC Department of Health and Human Services.  Clients participating in ADS opioid treatment services may also report violations to the State Opioid Treatment Authority. In addition, complaints regarding violations of HIPAA privacy practices may be filed with the Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services (45 C.F.R. §160.306(a), (b)). If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you may also complain to ADS by filling out a Grievance Form which can be obtained from your counselor or found at the front desk. Your grievance will be sent to the Quality Improvement Director who will contact you within 5 working days upon receipt of the form.  You will not be retaliated against in any way for filing such a complaint.

Contact: For further information, contact the Director of Quality Improvement at 336.333.6860, ext. 265.

Effective Date: The effective date of this notice is April 14, 2003.

 

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