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Home » Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy

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. If you have any questions please contact our office.

We are required by law to:

  • Maintain the privacy of your protected health information;
  • Give you this notice of our duties and privacy practices regarding health information about you;
  • Follow the terms of our notice that is currently in effect.

HOW WE MAY USE AND DISCLOSE YOUR HEALTH INFORMATION:

Described as follows are the ways we may use and disclose health information that identifies you (Health Information, or PHI). Except for the following purposes, we will use and disclose Health Information only with your written permission. You may revoke such permission at any time by writing to us and stating that you wish to revoke permission you previously gave us.

Treatment. We may use and disclose Health Information for your treatment and to provide you with treatment-related health care services. For example, we may disclose Health Information to doctors, nurses, technicians, or other personnel, including people outside our office, who are involved in your medical care and need the information to provide you with medical care.

Payment. We may use and disclose Health Information so that we may bill and receive payment from you, an insurance company, or a third party for the treatment and services you received. For example, we may give your health plan information so that they will pay for your treatment. However, if you pay for your services yourself (e.g. out-of-pocket and without any third party contribution or billing), we will not disclose Health Information to a health plan if you instruct us to not do so.

Health Care Operations. We may use and disclose Health Information for health care operation purposes. These uses and disclosures are necessary to make sure that all of our patients receive quality care and to operate and manage our office. For example, we may use and disclose information to make sure the care you receive is of the highest quality. Subject to the exception above if you pay for your care yourself, we also may share information with other entities that have a relationship with you (for example, your health plan) for their health care operations.

Appointment Reminders, Treatment Alternatives and Health Related Benefits and Services. We may use and disclose Health Information to contact you and to remind you that you have an appointment with us. We also may use and disclose Health Information to tell you about treatment alternatives or health-related benefits and services that may be of interest to you. We will not, however, send you communications about health-related or non health-related products or services that are subsidized by a third party without your authorization.

Individuals Involved in Your Care or Payment for Your Care. When appropriate, we may share Health Information with a person who is involved in your medical care or payment for your care, such as your family or a close friend. We also may notify your family about your location or general condition or disclose such information to an entity assisting in a disaster relief effort.

Research. Under certain circumstances, we may use and disclose Health Information for research. For example, a research project may involve comparing the health of patients who received one treatment to those who received another, for the same condition. Before we use or disclose Health Information for research, the project will go through an approval process. Even without approval, we may permit researchers to look at records to help them identify patients who may be included in their research project or for other similar purposes, as long as they do not remove or take a copy of any Health Information.

Fundraising and Marketing. Health Information may be used for fundraising communications, but you have the right to opt-out of receiving such communications. Except for the exceptions detailed above, uses and disclosures of Health Information for marketing purposes, as well as disclosures that constitute a sale of Health Information, require your authorization if we receive any financial remuneration from a third party in exchange for making the communication, and we must advise you that we are receiving remuneration.

Other Uses. Other uses and disclosures of Health Information not contained in this Notice may be made only with your authorization.

SPECIAL SITUATIONS:

As Required by Law. We will disclose Health Information when required to do so by federal, state or local law.

To Avert a Serious Threat to Health or Safety. We may use and disclose Health Information when necessary to prevent a serious threat to your health and safety or the health and safety of the public or another person. Disclosures, however, will be made only to someone who may help prevent the threat.

Business Associates. We may disclose Health Information to our business associates that perform functions on our behalf or provide us with services if the information is necessary for such functions or services. For example, we may use another company to perform billing services on our behalf. All of our business associates are obligated to protect the privacy of your information and are not allowed to use or disclose any information other than as specified in our contract.

Organ and Tissue Donation. If you are an organ donor, we may use or release Health Information to organizations that handle organ procurement or other entities engaged in procurement; banking or transportation of organs, eyes, or tissues to facilitate organ, eye or tissue donation; and transplantation.

Military and Veterans. If you are a member of the armed forces, we may release Health Information as required by military command authorities. We also may release Health Information to the appropriate foreign military authority if you are a member of a foreign military.

Workers’ Compensation. We may release Health Information for workers’ compensation or similar programs. These programs provide benefits for work-related injuries or illness.

Public Health Risks. We may disclose Health Information for public health activities. These activities generally include disclosures to prevent or control disease, injury or disability; report births and deaths; report child abuse or neglect; report reactions to medications or problems with products; notify people of recalls of products they may be using; a person who may have been exposed to a disease or may be at risk for contracting or spreading a disease or condition; and the appropriate government authority if we believe a patient has been the victim of abuse, neglect or domestic violence. We will only make this disclosure if you agree or when required or authorized by law.

Health Oversight Activities. We may disclose Health Information to a health oversight agency for activities authorized by law. These oversight activities include, for example, audits, investigations, inspections, and licensure. These activities are necessary for the government to monitor the health care system, government programs, and compliance with civil rights laws.

Lawsuits. If you are involved in a lawsuit or a dispute, we may disclose Health Information in response to a court or administrative order. We also may disclose Health Information in response to a subpoena, discovery request, or other lawful process by someone else involved in the dispute, but only if efforts have been made to tell you about the request or to obtain an order protecting the information requested.

Law Enforcement. We may release Health Information if asked by a law enforcement official if the information is:

(1) in response to a court order, subpoena, warrant, summons or similar process;

(2) limited information to identify or locate a suspect, fugitive, material witness, or missing person;

(3) about the victim of a crime even if, under certain very limited circumstances, we are unable to obtain the person’s agreement;

(4) about a death we believe may be the result of criminal conduct;

(5) about criminal conduct on our premises; and

(6) in an emergency to report a crime, the location of the crime or victims, or the identity, description or location of the person who committed the crime.

Coroners, Medical Examiners and Funeral Directors. We may release Health Information to a coroner or medical examiner. This may be necessary, for example, to identify a deceased person or determine the cause of death. We also may release Health Information to funeral directors as necessary for their duties.

National Security and Intelligence Activities. We may release Health Information to authorized federal officials for intelligence, counter-intelligence, and other national security activities authorized by law.

Protective Services for the President and Others. We may disclose Health Information to authorized federal officials so they may provide protection to the President, other authorized persons, or foreign heads of state, or to conduct special investigations.

Inmates or Individuals in Custody. If you are an inmate of a correctional institution or under the custody of a law enforcement official, we may release Health Information to the correctional institution or law enforcement official. This release would be if necessary:

(1) for the institution to provide you with health care;

(2) to protect your health and safety or the health and safety of others; or

(3) the safety and security of the correctional institution.

YOUR RIGHTS:

You have the following rights regarding Health Information we have about you:

Right to Inspect and Copy. You have a right to inspect and copy Health Information that may be used to make decisions about your care or payment for your care. This includes medical and billing records, other than psychotherapy notes. To inspect and copy this Health Information, you must make your request, in writing, to our office.

Right to Amend. If you feel that Health Information we have is incorrect or incomplete, you may ask us to amend the information. You have the right to request an amendment for as long as the information is kept by or for our office. To request an amendment, you must make your request, in writing, to our office.

Right to an Accounting of Disclosures. You have the right to request a list of certain disclosures we made of Health Information for purposes other than treatment, payment and health care operations or for which you provided written authorization.

To request an accounting of disclosures, you must make your request, in writing, to our office.

Right to Request Restrictions. You have the right to request a restriction or limitation on the Health Information we use or disclose for treatment, payment, or health care operations. You also have the right to request a limit on the Health Information we disclose to someone involved in your care or the payment for your care, like a family member or friend. For example, you could ask that we not share information about a particular diagnosis or treatment with your spouse. To request a restriction, you must make your request, in writing, to our office. We are not required to agree to all such requests. If we agree, we will comply with your request unless the information is needed to provide you with emergency treatment.

Right to Request Confidential Communication. You have the right to request that we communicate with you about medical matters in a certain way or at a certain location. For example, you can ask that we only contact you by mail or at work. To request confidential communication, you must make your request, in writing, to our office. Your request must specify how or where you wish to be contacted. We will accommodate reasonable requests.

Right to a Paper Copy of This Notice. 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 are still entitled to a paper copy of this notice. You may obtain a copy of this notice in our office.

To obtain a paper copy of this notice please request it in writing.

Right to Electronic Records. You have the right to receive a copy of your electronic health records in electronic form.

Right to Breach Notification. You have the right to be notified if there is a Breach of privacy such that your Health Information is disclosed or used improperly or in an unsecured way.

CHANGES TO THIS NOTICE:

We reserve the right to change this notice and make the new notice apply to Health Information we already have as well as any information we receive in the future. We will post a copy of our current notice at our office. The notice will contain the effective date on the first page, in the top right-hand corner.

COMPLAINTS:

If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you may file a complaint with our office or with the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. All complaints must be made in writing. You will not be penalized for filing a complaint.

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AOA HIPAA Privacy Policy – For AOA Members

NOTICE OF PRIVACY PRACTICES

This Notice of Privacy Practices (“Notice”) describes how we may use or disclose your health information and how you can get access to such information. Please read it carefully. Your “health information,” for purposes of this Notice, is generally any information that identifies you and is created, received, maintained or transmitted by us in the course of providing health care items or services to you (referred to as “health information” in this Notice).

We are required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) and other applicable laws to maintain the privacy of your health information, to provide individuals with this Notice of our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to such information, and to abide by the terms of this Notice. We are also required by law to notify affected individuals following a breach of their unsecured health information.

USES AND DISCLOSURES OF INFORMATION WITHOUT YOUR AUTHORIZATION

The most common reasons why we use or disclose your health information are for treatment, payment or health care operations. Examples of how we use or disclose your health information for treatment purposes are: setting up an appointment for you; testing or examining your eyes; prescribing glasses, contact lenses, or eye medications and faxing them to be filled; showing you low vision aids; referring you to another doctor or clinic for eye care or low vision aids or services; or getting copies of your health information from another professional that you may have seen before us. Examples of how we use or disclose your health information for payment purposes are: asking you about your health or vision care plans, or other sources of payment; preparing and sending bills or claims; and collecting unpaid amounts (either ourselves or through a collection agency or attorney). “Health care operations” mean those administrative and managerial functions that we must carry out in order to run our office. Examples of how we use or disclose your health information for health care operations are: financial or billing audits; internal quality assurance; personnel decisions; participation in managed care plans; defense of legal matters; business planning; and outside storage of our records.

Other Disclosures and Uses We May Make Without Your Authorization or Consent

In some limited situations, the law allows or requires us to use or disclose your health information without your consent or authorization. Not all of these situations will apply to us; some may never come up at our office at all. Such uses or disclosures are:

  • when a state or federal law mandates that certain health information be reported for a specific purpose;
  • for public health purposes, such as contagious disease reporting, investigation or surveillance; and notices to and from the federal Food and Drug Administration regarding drugs or medical devices;
  • disclosures to governmental authorities about victims of suspected abuse, neglect or domestic violence;
  • uses and disclosures for health oversight activities, such as for the licensing of doctors; for audits by Medicare or Medicaid; or for investigation of possible violations of health care laws;
  • disclosures for judicial and administrative proceedings, such as in response to subpoenas or orders of courts or administrative agencies;
  • disclosures for law enforcement purposes, such as to provide information about someone who is or is suspected to be a victim of a crime; to provide information about a crime at our office; or to report a crime that happened somewhere else;
  • disclosure to a medical examiner to identify a dead person or to determine the cause of death; or to funeral directors to aid in burial; or to organizations that handle organ or tissue donations;
  • uses or disclosures for health related research;
  • uses and disclosures to prevent a serious threat to health or safety;
  • uses or disclosures for specialized government functions, such as for the protection of the president or high ranking government officials; for lawful national intelligence activities; for military purposes; or for the evaluation and health of members of the foreign service;
  • disclosures of de-identified information;
  • disclosures relating to worker’s compensation programs;
  • disclosures of a “limited data set” for research, public health, or health care operations;
  • incidental disclosures that are an unavoidable by-product of permitted uses or disclosures;
  • disclosures to “business associates” and their subcontractors who perform health care operations for us and who commit to respect the privacy of your health information in accordance with HIPAA;
  • [specify other uses and disclosures affected by state law].

Unless you object, we will also share relevant information about your care with any of your personal representatives who are helping you with your eye care. Upon your death, we may disclose to your family members or to other persons who were involved in your care or payment for heath care prior to your death (such as your personal representative) health information relevant to their involvement in your care unless doing so is inconsistent with your preferences as expressed to us prior to your death.

SPECIFIC USES AND DISCLOSURES OF INFORMATION REQUIRING YOUR AUTHORIZATION

The following are some specific uses and disclosures we may not make of your health information without your authorization:

Marketing activities. We must obtain your authorization prior to using or disclosing any of your health information for marketing purposes unless such marketing communications take the form of face-to-face communications we may make with individuals or promotional gifts of nominal value that we may provide. If such marketing involves financial payment to us from a third party your authorization must also include consent to such payment.

Sale of health information. We do not currently sell or plan to sell your health information and we must seek your authorization prior to doing so.

Psychotherapy notes. Although we do not create or maintain psychotherapy notes on our patients, we are required to notify you that we generally must obtain your authorization prior to using or disclosing any such notes.

YOUR RIGHTS TO PROVIDE AN AUTHORIZATION FOR OTHER USES AND DISCLOSURES

  • Other uses and disclosures of your health information that are not described in this Notice will be made only with your written authorization.
  • You may give us written authorization permitting us to use your health information or to disclose it to anyone for any purpose.
  • We will obtain your written authorization for uses and disclosures of your health information that are not identified in this Notice or are not otherwise permitted by applicable law.
  • We must agree to your request to restrict disclosure of your health information to a health plan if the disclosure is for the purpose of carrying out payment or health care operations and is not otherwise required by law and such information pertains solely to a health care item or service for which you have paid in full (or for which another person other than the health plan has paid in full on your behalf).

Any authorization you provide to us regarding the use and disclosure of your health information may be revoked by you in writing at any time. After you revoke your authorization, we will no longer use or disclose your health information for the reasons described in the authorization. However, we are generally unable to retract any disclosures that we may have already made with your authorization. We may also be required to disclose health information as necessary for purposes of payment for services received by you prior to the date you revoked your authorization.

YOUR INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS

You have many rights concerning the confidentiality of your health information. You have the right:

  • To request restrictions on the health information we may use and disclose for treatment, payment and health care operations. We are not required to agree to these requests. To request restrictions, please send a written request to us at the address below.
  • To receive confidential communications of health information about you in any manner other than described in our authorization request form. You must make such requests in writing to the address below. However, we reserve the right to determine if we will be able to continue your treatment under such restrictive authorizations.
  • To inspect or copy your health information. You must make such requests in writing to the address below. If you request a copy of your health information we may charge you a fee for the cost of copying, mailing or other supplies. In certain circumstances we may deny your request to inspect or copy your health information, subject to applicable law.
  • To amend health information. If you feel that health information we have about you is incorrect or incomplete, you may ask us to amend the information. To request an amendment, you must write to us at the address below. You must also give us a reason to support your request. We may deny your request to amend your health information if it is not in writing or does not provide a reason to support your request. We may also deny your request if the health information:
  • was not created by us, unless the person that created the information is no longer available to make the amendment,
  • is not part of the health information kept by or for us,
  • is not part of the information you would be permitted to inspect or copy, or
  • is accurate and complete.
  • To receive an accounting of disclosures of your health information. You must make such requests in writing to the address below. Not all health information is subject to this request. Your request must state a time period for the information you would like to receive, no longer than 6 years prior to the date of your request and may not include dates before April 14, 2003. Your request must state how you would like to receive the report (paper, electronically).
  • To designate another party to receive your health information. If your request for access of your health information directs us to transmit a copy of the health information directly to another person the request must be made by you in writing to the address below and must clearly identify the designated recipient and where to send the copy of the health information.

Contact Person:

Our contact person for all questions, requests or for further information related to the privacy of your health information is noted below (Privacy Contact Officer).

Complaints:

If you think that we have not properly respected the privacy of your health information, you are free to complain to us or to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights. We will not retaliate against you if you make a complaint. If you want to complain to us, send a written complaint to the office contact person at the address, fax or E mail shown above. If you prefer, you can discuss your complaint in person or by phone.

Changes to This Notice:

We reserve the right to change our privacy practices and to apply the revised practices to health information about you that we already have. Any revision to our privacy practices will be described in a revised Notice that will be posted prominently in our facility. Copies of this Notice are also available upon request at our reception area or can be downloaded as a PDF.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF RECEIPT

I acknowledge that I received a copy of _________________________________O.D., Notice of Privacy Practices.

Date ___________ Patient name________________________________ Signature _______________________________