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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 INFORMATON.  PLEASE REVIEW IT CAREFULLY.

We are committed to protecting the confidentiality of your medical information, and are required by law to do so.  This notice describes how we may use your medical information within the Hospital, and how we may disclose it to others outside the Hospital.  This notice also describes the rights you have concerning your own medical information.  Please review it carefully and let us know if you have questions.

HOW WILL WE USE AND DISCLOSE YOUR MEDICAL INFORMATION?

Treatment:  We may use your medical information to provide you with medical services and supplies.  We may also disclose your medical information to others who need that information to treat you, such as doctors, physician assistants, nurses, medical and nursing students, technicians, therapists, emergency service and medical transportation providers, medical equipment providers, and others involved in your care.

For example, we will allow your primary care physician to have access to your Hospital medical record.  To assure that your other treatment providers have quick access to your latest health information, we may participate in a community-based electronic health information exchange.  We also may use and disclose your medical information to contact you to remind you of an upcoming appointment, to inform you about possible treatment options or alternatives, or to tell you about health-related services available to you, or to perform follow-up calls to monitor your care experience.

Patient Directory:  In order to assist family members and other visitors in locating you while you are in the Hospital, the Hospital maintains a patient directory.  This directory includes your name, room number, your general condition (such as fair, stable, or critical), and your religious affiliation (if any).  We will disclose this information to someone who asks for you by name; we will disclose your religious affiliation only to clergy members.  If you do not want to be included in the Hospital’s patient directory, please tell our Registration personnel when you are admitted. You may be asked to fill out a simple form.

Family Members and Others Involved in Your Care:  We may disclose your medical information to a family member or friend who is involved in your medical care, or to someone who helps to pay for your care.  We also may disclose your medical information to disaster relief organizations to help locate a family member or friend in a disaster.  During visits with family members and other visitors, let your physician and Hospital personnel know if you do not want them to disclose your medical information during the visit. 

Payment:  We may use and disclose your medical information to get paid for the medical services and supplies we provide to you.  For example, your health plan or health insurance company may ask to see parts of your medical record before they will pay us for your treatment.  

Hospital Operations:  We may use and disclose your medical information if it is necessary to improve the quality of care we provide to patients or to run the Hospital.  We may use your medical information to conduct quality improvement activities, to obtain audit, accounting or legal services, or to conduct business management and planning. For example, we may look at your medical record to evaluate the care provided by Hospital personnel, your doctors, or other health care professionals.

Research:  We may use or disclose your medical information for research projects, such as studying the effectiveness of a treatment you received.  These research projects must go through a special process that protects the confidentiality of your medical information.  

Required by Law:  Federal, state, or local laws sometimes require us to disclose patients’ medical information. For instance, we are required to report child abuse or neglect and must provide certain information to law enforcement officials in domestic violence cases.  We also are required to give information to the State Workers’ Compensation Program for work-related injuries.

Public Health:  We also may report certain medical information for public health purposes.  For instance, we are required to report births, deaths, and communicable diseases to the State. We also may need to report patient problems with medications or medical products to the FDA, or may notify patients of recalls of products they are using.

Public Safety:  We may disclose medical information for public safety purposes in limited circumstances.  We may disclose medical information to law enforcement officials in response to a search warrant or a grand jury subpoena.  We also may disclose medical information to assist law enforcement officials in identifying or locating a person, to prosecute a crime of violence, to report deaths that may have resulted from criminal conduct, and to report criminal conduct at the Hospital.  We also may disclose your medical information to law enforcement officials and others to prevent a serious threat to health or safety.

Health Oversight Activities:  We may disclose medical information to a government agency that oversees the Hospital or its personnel, such as the State Department of Health, the federal agencies that oversee Medicare, the Board of Medical Examiners or the Board of Nursing.  These agencies need medical information to monitor the Hospital’s compliance with state and federal laws.

Coroners, Medical Examiners and Funeral Directors:  We may disclose medical information concerning deceased patients to coroners, medical examiners, and funeral directors to assist them in carrying out their duties.

Organ and Tissue Donation:  We may disclose medical information to organizations that handle organ, eye or tissue donation or transplantation.  

Military, Veterans, National Security and Other Government Purposes:  If you are a member of the armed forces, we may release your medical information as required by military command authorities or to the Department of Veterans Affairs.  The Hospital may also disclose medical information to federal officials for intelligence and national security purposes, or for presidential Protective Services. 

Judicial Proceedings:  The Hospital may disclose medical information if the Hospital is ordered to do so by a court or if the Hospital receives a subpoena or a search warrant.  You will receive advance notice about this disclosure in most situations so that you will have a chance to object to sharing your medical information.

Information with Additional Protection:  Certain types of medical information have additional protection under state or federal law.  For instance, medical information about communicable disease and HIV/AIDS, and evaluation and treatment for a serious mental illness is treated differently than other types of medical information.  For those types of information, the Hospital is required to get your permission before disclosing that information to others in many circumstances.

WHEN IS YOUR AUTHORIZATION REQUIRED?

Uses and Disclosures for Which Your Authorization is Required:  With limited exceptions, the Hospital must obtain your written authorization before it may disclose your medical information in the following circumstances:  (1) to disclose psychotherapy notes, (2) to conduct marketing activities, or (3) to sell your medical information to a third party.

Other Uses and Disclosures Requiring Authorization:  If the Hospital wishes to use or disclose your medical information for a purpose that is not discussed in this Notice, the Hospital will seek your written authorization.  If you give your authorization to the Hospital, you may take back that authorization any time, unless we have already relied on your authorization to use or disclose the information.   If you ever would like to revoke your authorization, please notify the Privacy Official in writing.

WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS?

Right to Request Your Medical Information:  You have the right to look at your own medical information and to get a copy of that information.  (The law requires us to keep the original record.)  This includes your medical record, your billing record, and other records we use to make decisions about your care. To request your medical information, write to the Privacy Official.  If you request a copy of your information, we will charge you for our costs to copy the information.  We will tell you in advance what this copying will cost.  You can look at your record at no cost.

Right to Request Amendment of Medical Information You Believe Is Erroneous or Incomplete:  If you examine your medical information and believe that some of the information is wrong or incomplete, you may ask us to amend your record.  To ask us to amend your medical information, write to the Privacy Official.

Right to Get a List of Certain Disclosures of Your Medical Information:  You have the right to request a list of many of the disclosures we make of your medical information.  If you would like to receive such a list, write to the Privacy Official. We will provide the first list to you free, but we may charge you for any additional lists you request during the same year.  We will tell you in advance what this list will cost.

Right to Request Restrictions on How the Hospital Will Use or Disclose Your Medical Information for Treatment, Payment, or Health Care Operations:  You have the right to request that the Hospital not make disclosures of your medical information to treat you, to seek payment for care, or to operate the Hospital.  In many cases, the Hospital is not required to agree to your request for restriction, but if we do agree, we will comply with that agreement.  If you want to request a restriction, write to the Privacy Official and describe your request in detail.  However, the Hospital must agree to your request not to disclose to your health plan any medical information about items or services for which you have paid in full, unless such disclosure is required for treatment or by law.  If you do not want the Hospital to disclose medical information to your health plan, you must notify us at the time of your registration as well as make immediate arrangements to pay in full for your treatment.  

Right to Request Confidential Communications:  You have the right to ask us to communicate with you in a way that you feel is more confidential.  For example, you can ask us not to call your home, but to communicate only by mail.  To do this, write to the Privacy Official. Upon request, you can also ask to speak with your health care providers in private outside the presence of other patients or family.

Right to a Paper Copy:  If you have received this notice electronically, you have the right to a paper copy at any time. You may download a paper copy of the notice from our Web site, at www.stvincenthospital.com or you may obtain a paper copy of the notice from the Privacy Official.

DUTIES OF THE HOSPITAL

The Hospital is required by law to protect the privacy of your medical information, give you this Notice of Privacy Practices, and follow the terms of the Notice that is currently in effect.  The Hospital is also required to notify you if there is a breach of your unsecured medical information.  

WHICH HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS ARE COVERED BY THIS NOTICE?

This Notice of Privacy Practices applies to the Hospital and its personnel, volunteers, students, and trainees.   The Notice also applies to other health care providers when they come to the Hospital to care for patients, such as physicians, physician assistants, therapists, other health care providers who are not employed by the Hospital.  However, these other health care providers may follow different practices at their own offices or facilities.   

CHANGES TO THIS NOTICE

From time to time, we may change our practices concerning how we use or disclose patient medical information, or how we will implement patient rights concerning their information.  We reserve the right to change this Notice and to make the provisions in our new Notice effective for all medical information we maintain.  If we change these practices, we will publish a revised Notice of Privacy Practices.  You can get a copy of our current notice of Privacy Practices at any time by contacting the Privacy Official.

DO YOU HAVE CONCERNS OR COMPLAINTS?

Please tell us about any problems or concerns you have with your privacy rights or how the Hospital uses or discloses your medical information.  If you have a concern, please contact the

Local Privacy Official 1-508-383-1000, or
Compliance (confidential) hotline 1-888-895-9945

If for some reason the Hospital cannot resolve your concern, you may also file a complaint with the federal government at the OCR/DHHS regional office.  

We will not penalize you or retaliate against you in any way for filing a complaint with the federal government. 

DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?

The Hospital is required by law to give you this Notice and to follow the terms of the Notice that is currently in effect. If you have any questions about this Notice, or have further questions about how the Hospital may use and disclose your medical information, please contact the Privacy Official. 

HOSPITAL PRIVACY OFFICIAL CONTACT INFORMATION

Name: MetroWest Medical Center 
Mailing Address: 115 Lincoln Street, Framingham, MA 01702 
Phone: 1-508-383-1000  Fax: 1-508-383-8789 
E-Mail: mwmc-privacyofficer@mwmc.com
TDD/TDY: 1-800-439-0183

NOTICE TO THE PATIENT – HOSPITAL RECORD RETENTION, DESTRUCTION, INSPECTION, COPYING AND FEES

TO THE PATIENT:

This Facility complies with Massachusetts law  for retention, destruction, inspection, copying and copy fees for your Hospital Medical Records.  

As required by Massachusetts law, a summary of these requirements is listed below.  If you have any questions about this Hospital’s keeping, destroying, copying/copy fees or your right to inspection of your Hospital Medical Records, you may contact the Release of Information Department at 508-650-7216. 

RETENTION – HOW LONG WILL THE HOSPITAL KEEP YOUR HOSPITAL MEDICAL RECORD?

Your hospital medical record will be kept (retained) by the Hospital at least 20 years from the last date you are discharged from the Hospital or the date of your final treatment at the Hospital.

DESTRUCTION – WILL THE HOSPITAL EVER DESTROY MY HOSPITAL MEDICAL RECORD?

After 20 years from the date of your last Hospital care or treatment, the Hospital may notify the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Health of its intent to destroy Hospital Medical Records.

INSPECTION – HOW CAN THE PATIENT REVIEW HIS/HER HOSPITAL MEDICAL RECORD?

As stated in this Hospital’s Notice of Privacy Practice, you (or your legal representative) have a right to review (‘inspect’) your Hospital Medical Record.  If you wish to inspect/review your Hospital Medical Record, you may do so by contacting the Release of Information Department at 508-650-7216.

COPYING/COPY FEES – YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO OBTAIN A COPY OF YOUR HOSPITAL MEDICAL RECORD.

You have a right to a copy of your Hospital Medical Record; a copying fee as provided by Massachusetts law may be charged.  If you want a copy of your Hospital Medical Record, contact the Release of Information Department at 508-650-7216.

ANY OTHER QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR HOSPITAL MEDICAL RECORD?

If you have questions about your Hospital Medical Record, you may contact the Release of Information Department at 508-650-7216.

1 “Records of Hospitals or Clinics; Custody; Inspection; Copies; Fees,” 111 MGL 70.

Effective date: September 23, 2013

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