Patient Privacy Information
Effective date: September 2013
At Women’s Health of Central MA, your privacy is a priority. We follow strict federal and state guidelines to maintain the confidentiality of your medical (protected health) information. We also follow state guidelines regarding how long we must store your medical records and the requirements for proper disposal.
Protected Health Information
Protected health information (PHI) is any information about your past, present or future health care, or payment for that care that could be used to identify you. Members of our workforce and our business associates may only access the minimum amount of protected health information that they need to complete their assigned tasks.
Use and Disclosure of PHI
When you visit a Women’s Health of Central MA office, we use and disclose your protected health information to treat you, to obtain payment for services and to conduct normal business known as health care operations. We may also share information with a contracted business associate who must meet our privacy and security requirements.
Examples of how we use and disclose your information include:
Treatment – We document each visit and/or admission. Documentation may include your test results, diagnoses and medications, and your response to medications or other therapies. This allows your doctors, nurses and other clinical staff to provide the best care to meet your needs. Obstetrical medical records will be sent by Women’s Health to Labor & Delivery at the hospital at which you have chosen to deliver.
Payment – We document the services and supplies you receive at each visit or admission so that you, your insurance company or another third party can pay us. We may tell your health plan about upcoming treatment or services that require its prior approval.
Health Care Operations – Medical information is used to improve the services we provide, to train staff and students, and for business management, performance improvement and customer service.
We may also use information to:
• Recommend treatment alternatives
• Tell you about health benefits and services
• Communicate with other Women’s Health of Central MA members or business associates for treatment, payment or health care operations
• Communicate with family or friends involved in your care
There are limited times when we are permitted or required to disclose medical information without your signed permission. These situations include the following:
• For public health activities such as tracking diseases or medical devices
• To protect victims of abuse or neglect
• For federal and state health oversight activities such as fraud investigations
• For judicial or administrative proceedings
• If required by law or for law enforcement
• To coroners, medical examiners and funeral directors
• To avert serious threat to public health or safety
• For specialized government functions such as national security and intelligence
• To workers’ compensation if you are injured at work
• To a correctional institution if you are an inmate
• For research that is approved by our research review committee when written consent is not required by law. This may also include our internal preparation for research studies or telling you about research studies in which you might be interested. You are able to choose whether or not you want to hear more details about any research study.
• Other uses and disclosures not described in this notice may be made with your signed authorization. Some of the times we may need your signed permission to use and disclosure your information include sale of your information, marketing purposes, and most sharing of psychotherapy notes and other medical information identified under our state laws. You may cancel your authorization, in writing, at any time.
Women’s Health of Central MA is required by law to maintain the privacy and security of your medical information, provide this notice of our duties and privacy practices, and abide by the terms of the notice currently in effect. We reserve the right to change privacy practices and make the new practices effective for all the information we maintain. Revised notices will be posted in our facilities, available from your health care provider, and on our web site. We will notify you promptly if a breach occurs that may have compromised the privacy or security of your information.
You have the right to:
• Inspect and request either a paper or electronic copy of your medical records (fees will apply)*
• Request a correction to your medical information (reason required)*
• Request that we use a specific telephone number or address to communicate with you
• Request that we limit how we use or disclose your medical information (we are not required to agree to your request)
• Request that we limit certain disclosures of your medical information to your health plan if an item or service is paid in full out-of-pocket*
• Receive a list (an accounting) of how your medical information was disclosed (excludes disclosures for treatment, payment, health care operations and some required disclosures; fees may apply)*
• Obtain a paper copy of this notice even if you receive it electronically
• Register a complaint — see “To Contact Us” section of this notice
• Opt out of our hospital inpatient list or fundraising requests
*Request must be in writing
If you have questions about this notice, contact the privacy officer or visit www.whcma.com. If you would like to exercise your rights or if you feel your privacy rights have been violated, contact the privacy officer:
WHCMA Privacy Officer, 100 MLK Jr. Boulevard, Worcester, MA 01608 – 508-755-4861
All complaints will be investigated and you will not suffer retaliation for filing a complaint. You may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights by sending a letter or visiting www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/complaints/