RHEUMATOLOGY CENTER OF HOUSTON, PLLC
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.
 EFFECTIVE JANUARY, 2016

This Notice of Privacy Practices (the “Notice”) tells you about the ways we may use and disclose your protected health information (“medical information”) and your rights and our obligations regarding the use and disclosure of your medical information. This Notice applies to Rheumatology Center of Houston, PLLC including its providers and employees (the “Practice”).

 I.          OUR OBLIGATIONS.
              We are required by law to:
               -Maintain the privacy of your medical information, to the extent required by state and federal law;
               -Give you this Notice explaining our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to medical information about you;
               -Notify affected individuals following a breach of unsecured medical information under federal law; and
               -Follow the terms of the version of this Notice that is currently in effect.


 II.         HOW WE MAY USE AND DISCLOSE MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU.
The following categories describe the different reasons that we typically use and disclose medical information.  These categories are intended to be general descriptions only, and not a list of every instance in which we may use or disclose your medical information.  Please understand that for these categories, the law generally does not require us to get your authorization in order for us to use or disclose your medical information.
              A.         For Treatment.   We may use and disclose medical information about you to provide you with health care treatment and related services, including coordinating and managing your health care. We may disclose medical information  about you to physicians,  nurses, other health care providers and personnel RHEUMATOLOGY CENTER OF HOUSTON, PLLC.
              B.           For Payment. We may use and disclose medical information about you so that we or may bill and collect from you, an insurance company, or a third party for the health care services we provide.  This may also include the disclosure of medical information to obtain prior authorization for treatment and procedures from your insurance plan.  For example, we may send a claim for payment to your insurance company, and that claim may have a code on it that describes the services that have been rendered to you.  If, however, you pay for an item or service in full, out of pocket and request that we not disclose to your health plan the medical information solely relating to that item or service, as described more fully in Section IV of this Notice, we will follow that restriction on disclosure unless otherwise required by law.ho are providing or involved in providing health care to you (both within and outside of the Practice).  For example, should your care require referral to or treatment  by  another  physician  of  a  specialty  outside  of  the  Practice,  we  may  provide  that physician with your medical information in order to aid the physician in his or her treatment of you.
              C.        For Health Care Operations.   We may use and disclose medical  information about you for our health care operations.  These uses and disclosures are necessary to operate and manage our practice and to promote quality care.  For example, we may need to use or disclose your medical information in order to assess the quality of care you receive or to conduct certain cost management, business management, administrative, or quality improvement activities or to provide information to our insurance carriers.
              D.      Quality Assurance.  We may need to use or disclose your medical information for our internal processes to assess and facilitate the provision of quality care to our patients.
              E.      Utilization Review.  We may need to use or disclose your medical information to perform a review of the services we provide in order to evaluate  whether that the appropriate level of services is received, depending on condition and diagnosis.
              F.     Credentialing and Peer Review.  We may need to use or disclose your medical information in order for us to review the credentials, qualifications and actions of our health care providers.
             G.        Treatment Alternatives.   We may use and disclose medical information to tell you about or recommend  possible treatment  options or alternatives  that we believe may be of interest to you.
              H.       Appointment Reminders and Health Related Benefits and Services.   We may use and disclose medical information, in order to contact you (including, for example, contacting you by phone and leaving a message on an answering machine) to provide appointment reminders and other information.   We may use and disclose medical information to tell you about health- related benefits or services that we believe may be of interest to you.  We may also contact you by email if it has been provided, to provide appointment reminders and other information.
              I.           Business Associates.  There are some services (such as billing or legal services) that may be provided to or on behalf of our Practice through contracts with business associates. When these services are contracted, we may disclose your medical information to our business associate so that they can perform the job we have asked them to do.  To protect your medical information,   however,   we  require   the  business   associate   to  appropriately   safeguard   your information.
             J.         Individuals  Involved  in Your  Care  or Payment  for Your  Care.   We  may disclose medical information  about you to a friend or family member who is involved in your health care, as well as to someone who helps pay for your care, but we will do so only as allowed by state or federal law (with an opportunity for you to agree or object when required under the law), or in accordance with your prior authorization.
            K.         As Required by Law.   We will disclose medical information  about you when required to do so by federal, state, or local law or regulations.
            L.         To Avert an Imminent Threat of Injury to Health or Safety.  We may use and disclose medical information about you when necessary to prevent or decrease a serious and imminent threat of injury to your physical, mental or emotional health or safety or the physical safety  of  another  person.    Such  disclosure  would  only  be  to  medical  or  law  enforcement personnel.
           M.        Organ  and  Tissue  Donation.    If  you  are  an  organ  donor,  we  may  use  and disclose  medical  information  to organizations  that handle organ procurement  or organ, eye or tissue  transplantation  or  to  an  organ  donation  bank  as  necessary  to  facilitate  organ  or  tissue donation and transplantation.
           N.         Research.    We  may  use  or  disclose  your  medical  information  for  research purposes in certain situations.  Texas law permits us to disclose your medical information without your written authorization to qualified personnel for research, but the personnel may not directly or indirectly identify a patient in any report of the research or otherwise disclose identity in any manner.    Additionally,  a  special  approval  process  will  be  used  for  research  purposes,  when required by state or federal law.  For example, we may use or disclose your information to an Institutional Review Board or other authorized privacy board to obtain a waiver of authorization under  HIPAA.    Additionally,  we  may  use  or disclose  your  medical  information  for  research purposes if your authorization has been obtained when required by law, or if the information we provide to researchers is “de-identified.”
          O.         Military and Veterans.   If you are a member of the armed forces, we may use and disclose medical information about you as required by the appropriate military authorities.
          P.          Workers’ Compensation.   We may disclose medical information about you for your  workers'  compensation  or similar  program.    These  programs  provide  benefits  for work- related injuries.  For example, if you have injuries that resulted from your employment, workers’ compensation  insurance  or  a  state  workers’  compensation  program  may  be  responsible  for payment for your care, in which case we might be required to provide information to the insurer or program.
         Q.         Public Health Risks.  We may disclose medical information about you to public health  authorities  for  public  health  activities.    As  a  general  rule,  we  are  required  by  law  to disclose certain types of information to public health authorities, such as the Texas Department of State Health Services.  The types of information generally include information used:
                     To prevent or control disease, injury, or disability (including the reporting of a particular disease or injury).
                     To report births and deaths.
                     To report suspected child abuse or neglect.
                     To report reactions to medications or problems with medical devices and supplies.
                     To notify people of recalls of products they may be using.
                     To notify a person who may have been exposed to a disease or may be at risk for contracting or spreading a disease or condition.
                     To notify 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.
                     To provide information about certain medical devices.
                     To assist in public health investigations, surveillance, or interventions.
          R.         Health Oversight Activities.   We may disclose medical information to a health oversight agency for activities authorized by law.  These oversight activities include audits, civil, administrative, or criminal investigations and proceedings, inspections, licensure and disciplinary actions,  and  other  activities  necessary  for the government  to monitor  the health  care  system, certain governmental benefit programs, certain entities subject to government regulations which relate to health information, and compliance with civil rights laws.
           S.          Legal  Matters.   If you are involved  in a lawsuit  or a legal  dispute,  we may disclose medical information about you in response to a court or administrative order, subpoena, discovery request, or other lawful process.   In addition to lawsuits, there may be other legal proceedings  for  which  we  may  be  required  or  authorized  to  use  or  disclose  your  medical information, such as investigations of health care providers, competency hearings on individuals, or claims over the payment of fees for medical services.
           T.         Law Enforcement, National Security and Intelligence Activities.  In certain circumstances, we may disclose your medical information if we are asked to do so by law enforcement officials, or if we are required by law to do so.  We may disclose your medical information  to  law  enforcement  personnel,  if  necessary  to  prevent  or  decrease  a serious  and imminent threat of injury to your physical, mental or emotional health or safety or the physical safety of another person.  We may disclose medical information about you to authorized federal officials for intelligence, counterintelligence,  and other national security activities authorized by law
          U.         Coroners,  Medical  Examiners   and  Funeral  Home  Directors.     We  may disclose your medical 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 may also release medical information about our patients to funeral home directors as necessary to carry out their duties.
          V.         Inmates.  If you are an inmate of a correctional institution or under custody of a law  enforcement  official,  we  may  disclose  medical  information  about  you  to the  health  care personnel of a correctional institution as necessary for the institution to provide you with health care treatment.
          W.        Marketing of Related Health Services.   We may use or disclose your medical information to send you treatment or healthcare operations communications concerning treatment alternatives or other health-related products or services.   We may provide such communications to you in instances where we receive financial remuneration from a third party in exchange for making the communication only with your specific authorization unless the communication: (i) is made face-to-face  by the Practice  to you, (ii) consists  of a promotional  gift of nominal  value provided by the Practice, or (iii) is otherwise permitted by law.  If the marketing communication involves financial remuneration and an authorization is required, the authorization must state that such remuneration is involved.  Additionally, if we use or disclose information to send a written marketing communication (as defined by Texas law) through the mail, the communication must be sent in an envelope showing only the name and addresses of sender and recipient and must (i) state the name and toll-free  number of the entity sending  the market communication;  and (ii) explain the recipient’s right to have the recipient’s name removed from the sender’s mailing list.
          X.         Fundraising.   We may use or disclose certain limited amounts of your medical information to send you fundraising materials.  You have a right to opt out of receiving such fundraising communications.   Any such fundraising materials sent to you will have clear and conspicuous instructions on how you may opt out of receiving such communications in the future.
          Y.         Electronic  Disclosures  of  Medical  Information.    Under  Texas  law,  we  are required to provide notice to you if your medical information is subject to electronic disclosure. This Notice serves as general notice that we may disclose your medical information electronically for treatment, payment, or health care operations or as otherwise authorized or required by state or federal law.

 III.      OTHER USES OF MEDICAL INFORMATION
          A.          Authorizations.  There are times we may need or want to use or disclose your medical information for reasons other than those listed above, but to do so we will need your prior authorization.  Other than expressly provided herein, any other uses or disclosures of your medical information will require your specific written authorization.
          B.         Psychotherapy  Notes,  Marketing  and  Sale  of Medical  Information.    Most uses and disclosures of “psychotherapy notes,” uses and disclosures of medical information for marketing purposes, and disclosures that constitute a “sale of medical information” under HIPAA require your authorization.
          C.         Right to Revoke Authorization.  If you provide us with written authorization to use  or  disclose  your  medical  information  for  such  other  purposes,  you  may  revoke  that authorization in writing at any time.  If you revoke your authorization, we will no longer use or disclose your medical information for the reasons covered by your written authorization.   You understand  that we are unable  to take back any uses or disclosures  we have already  made in reliance upon your authorization, and that we are required to retain our records of the care that we provided to you.

 IV.        YOUR RIGHTS REGARDING MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU. 
Federal and state laws provide you with certain rights regarding the medical information we have about you.  The following is a summary of those rights.
           A.        Right to Inspect and Copy.   Under most circumstances,  you have the right to inspect and/or copy your medical information that we have in our possession, which generally includes your medical and billing records.   To inspect or copy your medical information,  you must submit your request to do so in writing to the Practice’s HIPAA Officer at the address listed in Section VI below.
                      If you request a copy of your information, we may charge a fee for the costs of copying, mailing, or certain supplies associated  with your request.   The fee we may charge will be the amount allowed by state law.
                      If your requested medical information is maintained in an electronic format (e.g., as part of an electronic medical record, electronic billing record, or other group of records maintained by the Practice that is used to make decisions about you) and you request an electronic copy of this information, then we will provide you with the requested medical information in the electronic form and format requested, if it is readily producible in that form and format.  If it is not readily producible in the requested electronic form and format, we will provide access in a readable electronic form and format as agreed to by the Practice and you.
                      In  certain  very  limited  circumstances  allowed  by  law,  we  may  deny  your  request  to review or copy your medical information.   We will give you any such denial in writing.    If you are denied access to medical information, you may request that the denial be reviewed.  Another licensed health care professional chosen by the Practice will review your request and the denial. The person conducting the review will not be the person who denied your request.  We will abide by the outcome of the review.
          B.         Right to Amend.   If you feel the medical  information  we have about you 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 the Practice.  To request an amendment, your request  must be in writing  and submitted  to the HIPAA  Officer  at the address  listed  in Section  VI  below.    In  your  request,  you  must  provide  a  reason  as  to  why  you  want  this amendment.  If we accept your request, we will notify you of that in writing.
                     We may deny your request for an amendment if it is not in writing or does not include a reason to support the request.  In addition, we may deny your request if you ask us to amend information that (i) was not created by us (unless you provide a reasonable basis for asserting that the  person  or  organization  that  created  the  information  is  no  longer  available  to  act  on  the requested amendment), (ii) is not part of the information kept by the Practice, (iii) is not part of the  information  which  you  would  be  permitted  to  inspect  and  copy,  or  (iv)  is  accurate  and complete.  If we deny your request, we will notify you of that denial in writing.
           C.         Right  to  an  Accounting  of  Disclosures.    You  have  the  right  to  request  an "accounting of disclosures" of your medical information.  This is a list of the disclosures we have made for up to six years prior to the date of your request of your medical information, but does not  include  disclosures  for  Treatment,  Payment,  or  Health  Care  Operations  (as  described  in Sections II A, B, and C of this Notice) or disclosures made pursuant to your specific authorization (as described in Section III of this Notice), or certain other disclosures.
                     If we make disclosures through an electronic health records (EHR) system, you may have an additional right to an accounting of disclosures for Treatment, Payment, and Health Care Operations.   Please contact the Practice’s HIPAA Officer at the address set forth in Section VI below for more information regarding whether we have implemented an EHR and the effective date, if any, of any additional right to an accounting of disclosures made through an EHR for the purposes of Treatment, Payment, or Health Care Operations.
                    To request a list of accounting, you must submit your request in writing to the Practice’s HIPAA Officer at the address set forth in Section VI below.  Your request must state a time period, which may not be longer than six years (or longer than three      years for Treatment, Payment, and Health Care Operations disclosures made through an EHR, if applicable) and may not include dates before April 14, 2003.   Your request should indicate in what form you want the list (for example, on paper or electronically).   The first list you request within a twelve-month period will be free.  For additional lists, we may charge you a reasonable fee for the costs of providing the list.  We will notify you of the cost involved and you may choose to withdraw or modify your request at that time before any costs are incurred.
          D.         Right to Request Restrictions.   You have the right to request a restriction  or limitation  on the medical information  we use or disclose about you for treatment, payment, or health  care  operations.    You  also  have  the  right  to  request  a restriction  or  limitation  on  the medical  information  we  disclose  about  you  to someone  who  is involved  in your  care  or the payment for your care, like a family member or friend.
                      Except as specifically described below in this Notice, we are not required to agree to your request for a restriction or limitation.  If we do agree, we will comply with your request unless the information is needed to provide emergency treatment.   In addition, there are certain situations where we won’t be able to agree to your request, such as when we are required by law to use or disclose  your  medical  information.    To  request  restrictions,  you  must  make  your  request  in writing to the Practice’s HIPAA Officer at the address listed in Section VI of this Notice below. In your request, you must specifically  tell us what information  you want to limit, whether you want us to limit our use, disclosure, or both, and to whom you want the limits to apply.
                      As stated above, in most instances we do not have to agree to your request for restrictions on disclosures that are otherwise allowed.   However, if you pay or another person (other than a health plan) pays on your behalf for an item or service in full, out of pocket, and you request that we not disclose the medical information relating solely to that item or service to a health plan for the purposes of payment or health care operations,  then we will be obligated  to abide by that request for restriction unless the disclosure is otherwise required by law.   You should be aware that such restrictions may have unintended consequences, particularly if other providers need to know that information (such as a pharmacy filling a prescription).   It will be your obligation to notify any such other providers of this restriction.   Additionally,  such a restriction may impact your health plan’s decision to pay for related care that you may not want to pay for out of pocket (and which would not be subject to the restriction).
          E.         Right to Request Confidential Communications.  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 at home, not at work or, conversely, only at work  and  not  at  home.    To  request  such  confidential  communications,  you  must  make  your request in writing to the Practice’s HIPAA Officer at the address listed in Section VI below.
                     We  will  not  ask  the  reason  for  your  request,  and  we  will  use  our  best  efforts  to accommodate all reasonable requests, but there are some requests with which we will not be able comply.  Your request must specify how and where you wish to be contacted.
                     We  will  not  ask  the  reason  for  your  request,  and  we  will  use  our  best  efforts  to accommodate all reasonable requests, but there are some requests with which we will not be able comply.  Your request must specify how and where you wish to be contacted.
           F.          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.  To obtain a copy of this Notice, you must make your request in writing to the Practice’s HIPAA Officer at the address   set forth in Section VI below.
          G.  Right to Breach Notification.  In certain cirscumstances, we may be obligated to notify you (and potentially other parties) if we become aware that your medical information has been improperly  disclosed  or otherwise subject to a “breach” as defined in and/or required by HIPAA and applicable state law.

V.         CHANGES TO THIS NOTICE.
We reserve the right to change this Notice at any time, along with our privacy policies and practices.   We reserve the right to make the revised or changed Notice effective for medical information we already have about you as well, as any information we receive in the future.  We will post a copy of the current notice, along with an announcement that changes have been made, as applicable,  in our office.   When changes have been made to the Notice, you may obtain a revised copy by sending a letter to the Practice’s HIPAA Officer at the address listed in Section VI below or by asking the office receptionist for a current copy of the Notice.

 VI.        COMPLAINTS.
If you believe that your privacy rights as described in this Notice have been violated, you may file a complaint with the Practice at the following address or phone number:

 Rheumatology Center of Houston, PLLC
Attn:  HIPAA Officer
1200 Binz St, Houston, TX  77004
713-640-5477

 To file a complaint, you may either call or send a written letter.   The Practice will not retaliate against any individual who files a complaint.  You may also file a complaint with the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.  In addition,  if you have any questions  about this Notice, please contact  the Practice’s HIPAA Officer at the address or phone number listed above.




1200 Binz St. Ste 1495 Houston TX 77004 US

10907 Memorial Hermann Dr. Ste 300 Pearland TX  77584 US

Office hours:  Monday-Friday 7:30am-4:30pm    

+1.7136405477       Fax +1.7136405872

   

Contacts

RHEUMATOLOGY CENTER OF HOUSTON