Privacy Practices

STERLING AREA HEALTH CENTER 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. THE PRIVACY OF YOUR MEDICAL INFORMATION IS IMPORTANT TO US.

OUR LEGAL DUTY
We are required by applicable federal and state law to maintain the privacy of your protected health information. We are also required to give you the Notice about our privacy practices, our legal duties, and your rights concerning your health information. We must follow the privacy practices that are described in this Notice while it is in effect. This Notice takes effect 04/14/03 and revised 01/25/13, and will remain in effect until we replace it.

We reserve the right to change our privacy practices and the terms of this Notice at any time, provided such changes are permitted by applicable law. We reserve the right to make the changes in our privacy practices and the new terms of our Notice effective for all health information that we maintain, including health information we created or received before we made the changes. Before we make a significant change in our privacy practices, we will change this Notice and make the new Notice available upon request.

You may request a copy of our Notice at any time. 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, even if you have agreed to receive this Notice electronically. You may obtain a copy of this Notice at our web site, www.sterlinghealth.net.

 

USES AND DISCLOSURES OF HEALTH INFORMATION
We use and disclose health information about you for treatment, payment, and healthcare operations. For example:

Treatment: We may use or disclose your health information to a physician or other healthcare provider providing treatment to you.

Payment: We may use or disclose your health information to obtain payment for services we provide to you.

Healthcare Operations: We may use and disclose your health information in connection with our healthcare operations. Healthcare operations include quality assessment and improvement activities, reviewing the competence or qualifications of healthcare professionals, evaluating practitioner and provider performance, conducting training programs, accreditation, certification, licensing, or credentialing activities, quality assessment activities, and training of medical students.

Michigan Medical/Dental Patient Consent Law: We are required by Michigan law to obtain your written consent prior to making certain disclosures of our health information.

Your Authorization: In addition to our use of your health information for treatment, payment, or healthcare operations, you may give us written authorization to use your health information or to disclose it to anyone for any purpose. If you give us an authorization, you may revoke it in writing at any time. Your revocation will not affect any use or disclosures permitted by your authorization while it was in effect. Unless you give us a written authorization, we cannot use or disclose your health information for any reason except those described in this Notice. Including your health information for sale, fundraising or marketing communication. The disclosure of genetic information for underwriting purposes is prohibited.

We will share your protected health information with third party “Business Associates” that perform various activities (for example, billing or transcription services) for our practice. Whenever an arrangement between our office and a business associate involves the use or disclosure of your protected health information, we will have a written contract that contains terms that will protect the privacy of your protected health information.

We may use or disclose your protected health information, as necessary, to provide you with information about treatment alternatives or other health-related benefits and services that may be of interest to you, including appointment reminders (such as voice mail messages, postcards, or letters).

We must notify you following a breach of unsecured protected health information; covered entities must provide notification of the breach of affected individuals, the Secretary, and in certain circumstances, to the media. In addition, business associates must notify covered entities that a breach has occurred.

Other Permitted and Required Uses and Disclosures That May Be Made Without Your Authorization or Opportunity to Agree or Object

We may use or disclose your protected health information in the following situation without your authorization or providing you the opportunity to agree or object. These situations include:

Required By Law: We may use or disclose your protected health information to the extent that the use or disclosure is required by law. The use or disclosure will be made in compliance with the law and will be limited to the relevant requirements of the law.

Public Health: We may disclose your protected health information for public health activities and purposes to a public health authority that is permitted by law to collect or receive the information. For example, a disclosure may be made for the purpose of preventing or controlling disease, injury or disability.

Communicable Disease: We may disclose your protected health information, if authorized by law, to a person who may have been exposed to a communicable disease or may otherwise be at risk of contracting or spreading the disease or condition.

Health Oversight: We may disclose protected health information to a health oversight agency for activities authorized by law, such as audits, investigations, and inspections. Oversight agencies seeking this information include government agencies that oversee the health care system, government benefit programs, other government regulatory programs and civil rights laws.

Abuse or Neglect: We may disclose your protected health information to a public health authority that is authorized by law to receive reports of child abuse or neglect. In addition, we may disclose your protected health information if we believe that you have been a victim of abuse, neglect or domestic violence to the governmental entity or agency consistent with the requirements of applicable federal and state laws.

Food and Drug Administration: We may disclose your protected health information to a person or company required by the Food and Drug Administration for the purpose of quality, safety, or effectiveness of FDA-regulated products or activities including, to report adverse events, product defects or problems, Biologic product deviations to track products, to enable product recalls, to make repairs or replacements, or to conduct post marketing surveillance as required.

Legal Proceedings: We may disclose protected health information in the course of any judicial or administrative proceeding, in response to an order of a court or administrative tribunal ( to the extent such disclosure is expressly authorized), or in certain conditions in response to a subpoena, discovery request or other lawful process.

Law Enforcement: We may also disclose protected health information, so long as applicable legal requirements are met, for law enforcement purposes. These law enforcement purposes include (1) legal processes and otherwise required by law, (2) limited information requests for identification and location purposes, (3) pertaining to victims of a crime, (4) suspicion that death has occurred as a result of criminal conduct, (5) in the event that a crime occurs on the premises of our practice, and (6) medical emergency (not on our practice’s premises) and it is likely that a crime has occurred.

Coroners, Funeral Directors, and Organ Donation: We may disclose protected health information to a coroner or medical examiner for identification purposes, determining cause of death or for the coroner to medical examiner to perform other duties authorized by law. We may also disclose protected health information to a funeral director, as authorized by law, in order to permit the funeral director to carry out their duties. We may disclose such information in reasonable anticipation of death. Protected health information may be used and disclosed for cadaveric organ, eye or tissue donation purposes.

Research: We may disclose your protected health information to researchers when their research has been approved by an institutional review board that has reviewed the research proposal and established protocols to ensure the privacy of your protected health information.

Criminal Activity: Consistent with applicable federal and state laws, we may disclose your protected health information, if we believe that the use or disclosure is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the health or safety of a person or the public. We may also disclose protected health information if it is necessary for law enforcement authorities to identify or apprehend an individual.

Military Activity and National Security: When the appropriate conditions apply, we may use or disclose protected health information of individuals who are Armed Forces personnel (1) for activities deemed necessary by appropriate military command authorities; (2) for the purpose of a determination by the Department of Veterans Affairs of your eligibility for benefits, or (3) to foreign military authority if you are a member of that foreign military services. We may also disclose your protected health information to authorized federal officials for conducting national security and intelligence activities, including for the provision of protective services to the President or others legally authorized.

Worker’s Compensation: We may disclose your protected health information as authorized to comply with worker’s compensation laws and other similar legally established programs.

Inmates: We may use or disclose your protected health information if you are an inmate of a correctional facility and your physician created or received your protected health information in the course of providing care to you.

Uses and Disclosures of Protected Health Information based upon Your Written Authorization

Other uses and disclosures of your protected health information will be made only with your written authorization, unless otherwise permitted or required by law as described below. You may revoke this authorization in writing at any time. If you revoke your authorization, we will no longer use or disclose your protected health information for the reason covered by your written authorization. Please understand that we are unable to take back any disclosures already made with your authorization.

Other Permitted and Required Uses and Disclosures That Require Providing You the Opportunity to Agree or Object

We may use and disclose your protected health information in the following instances. You have the opportunity to agree or object to the use or disclosure of all or part of your protected health information. If you are not present or able to agree or object to the use or disclosure of the protected health information, then your physician may, using professional judgment, determine whether the disclosure is in your best interest.

Others Involved in Your Health Care or Payment for your Care: Unless you object, we may disclose to a member of your family, a relative, a close friend or any other person you identify, your protected health information that directly relates to that person’s involvement in your health care. If you are unable to agree or object to such a disclosure, we may disclose such information as necessary if we determine that it is in your best interest based on our professional judgment. We may use or disclose protected health information to notify or assist in notifying a family member, personal representative or any other person that is responsible for your care of your location, general condition or death. Finally, we may use or disclose your protected health information to an authorized public or private entity to assist in disaster relief efforts and to coordinate uses and disclosures to family or other individuals involved in your health care.

 

YOUR RIGHTS

Following is a statement of your rights and respect to your protected health information and a brief description of how you may exercise these rights.

You have the right to inspect any copy your protected health information. This means you may inspect and obtain a copy of protected health information about you for so long as we maintain the protected health information. You may obtain your medical record that contains medical and billing records and other records that your physician and the practice uses for making decisions about you including electronic protected health information if readily producible. As permitted by federal or state law, we may charge you a reasonable copy fee for a copy of your records.

Under federal law, however, you may not inspect or copy the following records: psychotherapy notes; information compiled in reasonable anticipation of, or use in, a civil, criminal, or administrative action or proceeding; and laboratory results that are subject to law that prohibits access to protected health information. Depending on the circumstances, a decision to deny access may be reviewable. You have a right to have this decision reviewed. Please contact our Privacy Officer if you have questions about access to your medical records.

You have the right to request a restriction of your protected health information.
This means you may ask us not to use or disclose any part of your protected health information for the purpose of treatment, payment or health care operations. You may also request that any part of your protected health information not be disclosed to family members or friends who may be involved in your care or for notification purposes as described in this Notice of Privacy Practices. Your request must state the specific restriction requested and to whom you want the restriction to apply.

To request a restriction, you must make your request in writing. We are not required to agree to your request unless you are asking us to restrict the use and disclosure of your protected health information to a health plan for payment or health care operation purposes and such information you wish to restrict pertains solely to a health care item or service for which you have paid us “out-of-pocket”. If we agree, we will comply with your request unless the information is needed to provide you with emergency treatment.

Out-of-Pocket-Payments. If you paid out-of-pocket (or in other words, you have requested that we not bill your health plan) for a specific item or service, you have the right to ask that your protected health information with respect to that item or service not be disclosed to a health plan for purposes of payment or health care operations, and we will honor that request.

You have the right to request to receive confidential communications from us by alternative means or at an alternative location. We will accommodate reasonable requests. We may also condition this accommodation by asking you for information as to how payment will be handled or specification of an alternative address or other method of contact. We will not request an explanation from you as to the basis for the request. Please make this request in writing.

You may have the right to have your physician amend your protected health information. This means you may request an amendment of protected health information about you for so long as we maintain this information, this request must be in writing. In certain cases, we may deny your request for an amendment. If we deny your request for amendment, you have the right to file a statement of disagreement with us and we may prepare a rebuttal to your statement and will provide you with a copy of any such rebuttal. Please contact our Privacy Officer if you have questions about amending your medical records.

You have the right to receive an accounting of certain disclosures we have made, if any of your protected health information. This right applies to an accounting of certain disclosures we or our Business Associates disclosed of your protected health information. The right applies for purposes other than treatment, payment or health care operations as described in this Notice of Privacy Practices. It excludes disclosures we may have made to you if you authorized us to make this disclosure. You have the right to receive specific information regarding these disclosures that occur after April 14, 2013. If you request this accounting more than once in a 12 month period, we may charge you a reasonable, cost based fee for responding to these additional requests.

You have the right to obtain a paper copy of this notice from us, upon request, even if you have agreed to accept this notice electronically. For more information about our privacy practices, or for additional copies of this Notice, please contact us using the information listed at the end of this Notice.

 

QUESTIONS AND COMPLAINTS
If you want more information about our privacy practices or have questions or concerns, please contact us.

If you are concerned that we may have violated your privacy rights, or you disagree with a decision we made about access to your health information, or in response to a request you made to amend or restrict the use or disclosure of your health information, or to have us communicate with you by alternative means or at alternative locations, you may complain to us using the contact information listed at the end of this Notice. You also may submit a written complaint to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. We will provide you with the address to file your complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services upon request.

We support your right to the privacy of your health information. We will not retaliate in any way if you choose to file a complaint with us or with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Contact Officer: Sterling Area Health Center, ask for the Privacy Officer.

Address & Telephone:

Sterling Office (989) 654-2491 - 725 E. State St., P.O. Box 740, Sterling, MI 48659

Ogemaw Office (989) 873-6200 - 1827 E. Greenwood Rd., Prescott, MI 48756

Dental Office (989) 873-5152 - 5095 Rifle River Trail, Alger, MI 48610

West Branch Office (989) 343-9466 - 335. E. Houghton Ave. Ste 4, West Branch, MI 48661

Hale Office (989) 728-2800 - 436 W. Main St., P.O. Box 127, Hale, MI 48739

725 E. State Street, PO Box 740, Sterling, MI 48659
Tel: 989-654-2491  •  Fax: 989-654-2190
Dividing Line
Sterling Area Health Center receives HHS funding and has Federal Public Health Service (PHS) deemed status with respect to certain health or health-related claims, including medical malpractice claims, for itself and its covered individuals. For more information about the legal protections offered to FTCA-deemed health centers and their employees, please click here.