Physicians have always protected the confidentiality of health information by sealing medical records away in file cabinets and refusing to reveal your information. Today, state and federal laws require health care organizations to protect this sensitive information.
The Federal government has published regulations designed to protect the privacy of your health information. This “privacy rule” or HIPAA, protects health information that is maintained by physicians, hospitals, other medical providers and health insurance plans.
This regulation protects virtually all patients regardless of where they live or where they receive their health care. Every time you see a physician, are admitted to a hospital, file a prescription or send a claim to a health insurance plan, your health care provider has to consider the privacy regulations. All health information, including paper records, verbal communication and electronic records (email and electronic medical record), is protected by the privacy regulations.
The privacy rule also provides you with certain rights, such as the right to have access to your information. However, these rights are not unconditional. We take precautions in our office to ensure the safety of your health information, such as training our staff and implementing computer security measures.
It is sometimes necessary to share your protected health information with other providers. In the event that our office refers you to another health care provider or facility for evaluation, testing or procedure, we are required to provide pertinent information regarding your care to that health provider. It is also necessary, at times, for us to provide medical records to your health insurance plan in order for them to process a claim. We are not required to obtain your express permission prior to releasing records for this purpose.
A copy of The Notice of Privacy Practices is available to you in our office should you wish to read it. Please feel free to request a copy at your appointment. The Notice of Privacy Practices explains in detail how confidential your health information is handled by our office. It also describes how you can exercise your rights with regard to your protected health information.