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 about this notice, please contact the WCCH Privacy Official at 402-746-5600

Definitions

Notice of Privacy Practices (The Notice)-written notice in compliance with the requirements of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, made available from Webster County Community Hospital to an individual or the individual's personal representative at the first delivery of services, or at the individual's next visit following a revision to the Notice, that describes the uses and disclosures of protected health information that may be made by WCCH and the individual's rights and WCCH's legal duties with respect to protected health information.

Protected Health Information (PHI)-individually identifiable health information that is transmitted or maintained in any form or medium, including electronic media. Protected health information does not include employment records held by WCCH in its role as an employer.

This notice summarizes the ways we may use and disclose medical information about you. It also describes your rights and our duties regarding the use and disclosure of your medical information. This notice applies to all records of your care at Webster County Community Hospital and Clinic whether made by hospital or clinic personnel or by your personal provider or other health care providers. Other health care providers may use a different notice and policy regarding the use and disclosure of your medical information in the offices. We are required by law to keep your medical information confidential in accordance with legal requirements. We are also required to give you this notice of our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to your medical information and to follow the terms of the notice that is currently in effect.

When either the word "we" or "Hospital" is used it means Webster County Community Hospital, medical professional and other parties who assist us in our business.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR HEALTH INFORMATION AND HOW IT IS USED AND HOW IT MAY BE SHARED WITH OTHERS.

Each time that you visit a hospital, a physician, or another health care provider, the provider makes a record of your visit. Typically this record contains your health history, current symptoms, examination, test results, diagnosis, treatment, and plan for future care. This information is often referred to as your medical record. The medical record serves as the following:
Basis for planning your care and treatment.
Means of communication among the health professional who contribute to your care.
Legal document describing the care that you received.
Means by which you or a third-party payer can verify that you actually received the services billed.
Tool in medical education.
Source of information for public health officials charged with improving the health of the regions they serve.
Tool to assess the appropriateness and quality of care that you received.
Tool to improve the quality of health care and achieve better patient outcomes.

Understanding what is in your health records and how your health information is used helps you to:
Ensure its accuracy and completeness,
Understand who, what, where, why and how others may access your health information,
Make informed decisions about authorizing disclosures to others,
Better understand the rights detailed in this Notice.

YOUR RIGHTS UNDER THE FEDERAL PRIVACY STANDARD

Although your health records are the physical property of the health care provider who completed the records, you have the following rights with regard to the information contained in them.

Right to Ask for Restrictions -You have the right to request restrictions on the uses and disclosures of your health information. You may ask that a limit on the information that is given to the person who is giving or paying for your care. An example of this is the family member or friend that helps you to pay your bills or assists you to appointments. You have the right to restrict the disclosure of information to a health plan regarding care of service that you received. To restrict the disclosure to a health plan the service must be paid in full by you or someone on your behalf. An example of this is if you received radiology services and paid for the episode in full for the service before the episode is submitted to the health plan, then you can request that that record not be disclosed to your health plan. The request must be made in writing. The request must include the following: what information is to be limited, who you do not want your information released to, and whether you want to limit our use of your information or our release of your information or both.

Right to a Paper Copy of Privacy Notice-You have the right to obtain a copy of this notice of information practices. This notice is posted in prominent locations throughout the facility and on the website. You have the right to request a hard copy. To receive a hard copy, contact the hospital or visit the website www.websterhospital.org.

Right to Inspect and Copy -You have the right to inspect and copy your health information. You do not have the right to access psychotherapy notes that are kept separate from your medical record and information compiled for use in civil, criminal, or administrative actions or proceedings. The medical records department has the form that must be completed for a request or review of medical information. They will also be able to tell you what the charge for the release of records will be. You can request records to be released in a certain format (paper, electronic, etc). If your request cannot be fulfilled, you may request a review of the request and denial. Your review will not be completed by the same person who denied the review. After the review, we will comply with what the review finds.

Right to Amend Records-You have the right to request amendments to your record. If you feel that your records are incomplete or incorrect, a request in writing including a good reason for the change must be completed. The request may be denied. Reasons for denial may be:
The record was not created by WCCH.
The record is accurate and complete.
The record is not part of the record that you are permitted to inspect or copy.
The record is not part of the WCCH record kept by or for the hospital.

Right to Accounting of Non-routine Disclosures of your Health Information-You have the right to make a written request for a list of the disclosures that were not made for treatment, payment, healthcare operations, disclosures made before April 14, 2003, or by written disclosure by you. A written request must be made. The request must have a specified time period and state what form you want the list in (paper, electronic, or other form). You can have one list per year at no cost; thereafter there is fee.

Right to Request Privacy in Communications-You have the right to ask to receive communication from WCCH in a specified way or location. You may ask to be communicated with by only phone or mail. You may ask to be communicated with at work or home. A request stating how or where you wish to be communicated with must be made in writing. All reasonable requests will be honored. A reason for the request does not need to be included.

Right to receive notice if your health information has been breached-You have the right to receive a written notice if a breach of your health information has occurred. This notice will contain the description of the breach and the steps to take to protect your privacy. A breach is the unauthorized access, use or disclosure of your protected health information.

How we may use and disclose your health information

Treatment-We may use your medical information to provide medical treatment or services to you. We may disclose medical information about you to doctors, nurses, technicians, medical nursing or other health care students, or other personnel taking care of you. For example, a doctor treating you for a broken leg may need to know if you have diabetes because diabetes may slow the healing process. In addition, the doctor may need to tell the dietitian if you have diabetes so you can have appropriate meals. Departments of the Hospital may share your medical information to schedule the tests and procedures you need, such as laboratory tests or x-rays. We also may disclose your medical information to health care facilities if you need to be transferred from the Hospital to another facility. We also may disclose your medical information to people outside the Hospital who are involved in your care after you leave the Hospital such a family members or pharmacists.

Payment-We may use and disclose your medical information so that the treatment and services you receive can be billed and collected from you, an insurance company or another third party. For example, we may give your health plan information about surgery you received so your health plan will pay us for the surgery. We may also tell your health plan about a treatment you are going to receive in order to obtain prior approval from your plan to cover payment for the treatment.

Health Care Operations-We may use and disclose your medical information for hospital operation, such as for peer review, performance improvement, risk management, and our compliance with licensure, accreditation or certification requirements. For example, we may disclose your medical information to physicians on our Medical Staff who review treatment of patients. We may disclose information to doctors, nurses, technicians, medical, nursing, or other health care students, and Hospital personnel for teaching. We may combine medical information about many patients to decide what services the Hospital should offer, and whether new services are cost effective and how we compare with other hospitals. Sometimes, we may remove identifying information from this medical information so others may use it to study health care and health care delivery without learning who you are. We may disclose information to other health care providers involved in your treatment to permit them to carry out the work of their facility or to get paid. For example, we may provide information about your treatment to an ambulance company that brought you to the Hospital so that the ambulance company can get paid for their services.

Business Associates-We provide some services through contracts with business associates. An example is certain diagnostic tests. When we use these services, we may disclose your health information to the business associate so that they can perform the function that we have contracted with them to do and bill you or your third-party payer for the services provided. To protect your health information, however, we require the business associates to appropriately safeguard your information. Business associates must comply with the same federal security and privacy rules as we do.

Activities of Organized Health Care Arrangements in Which We Participate-For certain activities, the Hospital, members of its Medical Staff and other independent professionals are called an Organized Health Care Arrangement. We may disclose information about you to health care providers participating in our Organized Health Care Arrangement, such as a managed care or physician hospital organization. Such disclosures would be made in connection with our services, your treatment under a health plan arrangement, and other activities of the Organized Health Care Arrangement.

IMPORTANT NOTICE

The Hospital may share your medical information with members of the Hospital Medical Staff and other independent medical professionals in order to provide treatment and perform other activities such as peer review, quality improvement, medical education and other services for the Hospital. While those professionals may follow this Notice and otherwise participate in the privacy program of the Hospital, they are independent professionals and the Hospital expressly disclaims any responsibility or liability for their acts or omissions.

Health Services, Treatment Alternatives and Health Related Benefits- We may use and disclose your medical information to tell you about health related products or services that we offer, other providers participating in a health care network that we participate in, possible treatment options or alternatives, or health related benefits or services that may be of interest to you. We also may use that information to communicate with you to coordinate your care. We may use and disclose your medical information to contact and remind you of an appointment for treatment or medical care.

Fundraising-We may use your medical information to raise money for the Hospital. We may disclose information such as your name, address, telephone number, gender, age, insurance information, date of birth, and the dates you received treatment at the Hospital to a Hospital foundation so it can contact you. If you do not want the Hospital to contact you for fundraising, please notify the Contact Person listed in writing.

Hospital Directory-We may include certain information about you in the Hospital Directory while you are a patient in the Hospital. This information may include your name, location in the facility, your general condition (fair, stable, etc.) and your religious affiliation. Your religious affiliation may be given to a member of the clergy, such as a priest or rabbi, even if they don't ask for you by name. Directory information, except for your religious affiliation, may be released to people who ask for you by name. This is so your family, friends and clergy can visit you in the Hospital and generally know how you are doing. If you do not want this information given out, please tell the Admissions Clerk.

Individuals Involved in Your Care or Payment for Your Care-We may release your medical information to the person you named in your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (if you have one), or to a friend or family member who is your personal representative (i.e., empowered under state or other law to make health-related decisions for you). We may give information to someone who helps pay for your care. In addition, we may disclose your medical information to an entity assisting in disaster relief efforts so that your family can be notified about your condition.

Research-We may use and disclose your medical information for research purposes. Most research projects, however, are subject to a special approval process. Most research projects require your permission if a researcher will be involved in your care or will have access to your name, address or other information that identifies you. However, the law allows some research to be done using your medical information without requiring your authorization.

Required By Law-We will disclose your medical information when federal, state or local law requires it. For example, the Hospital must comply with child abuse reporting laws and laws requiring us to report certain diseases or injuries to state or federal agencies.

Serious Threat to Health or Safety-We may use and disclose your medical information when necessary to prevent a serious threat to your health and safety or the health and safety of the public or another person. This information will be given to someone who is in the position to prevent the threat.

Note: Federal Law provide protection for certain types of health information, including information about alcohol or drug abuse, mental health and AIDS/HIV, and may limit whether and how we may disclose information about you to others.

SPECIAL SITUATIONS

Organ and Tissue Donation-If you are an organ donor, we may release your medical information to organizations that handle organ procurement or organ, eye or tissue transplantation or to an organ donation bank, as necessary to aid in its organ or tissue donation and transplantation process.

Military and Veterans-If you are a member of the U.S. or foreign armed forces, we may release your medical information as required by military command authorities.

Workers' Compensation-We may release medical information about you for workers' compensation or similar programs to the extent authorized and necessary to comply with the law and to workers compensation. These programs provide benefits for work related injuries or illness.

Minors-If you are a minor (under 19 years old), the Hospital will comply with Nebraska law regarding minors. We may release certain types of your medical information to your parent or guardian, if such release is required or permitted by law.

Public Health Risks-We may disclose your medical information for the following public health purposes: To prevent or control disease, injury or disability, to report births and deaths, to report child or adult abuse, neglect or violence, to report reactions to medications or problems with product, to notify people of recalls of products they may be using, or to notify a person who may have been exposed to a disease or may be at risk for getting or spreading a disease or condition.

Health Oversight Activities-We may disclose your medical information to a federal or state agency for health oversight activities such as audits, investigations, inspections, and licensure of the Hospital and of the providers who treated you at the Hospital. These activities are necessary for the government to monitor the health care system, government programs, and compliance with laws.

Lawsuits and Disputes-We may disclose your medical information to respond to a court or administrative order or a search warrant. We also may disclose your medical information in response to a subpoena, discovery request, or other lawful process by someone else involved in a dispute, but only if efforts have been made to tell you about the request and you have been provided an opportunity to object or to obtain an appropriate court order protecting the information requested.

Law Enforcement-Subject to certain conditions, we may disclose your medical information for a law enforcement purpose upon the request of a law enforcement official.

Medical Examiners and Funeral Directors-We may disclose your medical information to a medical examiner or funeral director so they may carry out their duties.

National Security-We may disclose your medical information to authorized federal officials for national security activities authorized by law.

Protective Services-We may disclose your medical information to authorized federal officials so they may provide protection to the President and other persons.

Residents of Correctional Institutions-If you are an inmate of a correctional institution or under the custody of a law enforcement officer, we may release your medical information to the correctional institution or a law enforcement officer. This release would be necessary for the Hospital to provide you with health care, to protect your health and safety or the health and safety of others, or for the safety and security of the law enforcement officer or the correctional institution.

Marketing-We may contact you to provide information about treatment alternatives or other health-related benefits and services that may be of interest to you. You have the right to revoke your authorization for marketing.

OTHER USES OF MEDICAL INFORMATION

Other uses and disclosures of your medical information not covered by this Notice or the laws and regulations that apply to the Hospital will be made only with your written permission. If you give us permission to use or disclose medical information about you, you may revoke that permission, in writing, at any time. If you revoke your permission, we will no longer use or disclose your medical information for the reasons covered by your written authorization, but the revocation will not affect actions we have taken in reliance on your permission. You understand that we are unable to take back any disclosures we have already made with your permission, we still must continue to comply with laws that require certain disclosures, and we are required to retain our records of the care that we provided to you.

Changes to this notice
We reserve the right to change this Notice. We reserve the right to make the revised or changed Notice effective for medical information we already have about you as well as for any information we receive in the future. We will post the current Notice in the Hospital and on our web site at www.websterhospital.org. You will receive a copy of this Notice the first time you are treated after any revisions and each time you are admitted to the hospital. A copy can also be requested at any time.

Complaints
If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you may file a written complaint with the Hospital or with the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services or HHS. To file a complaint with the Hospital, contact the Hospital. You will not be denied care or discriminated against by the Hospital for filing a complaint.