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Your Right to Privacy

Notice of Privacy Practices

This notice describes how protected health information about you may be used and disclosed and how you can get access to this information. Please review it carefully.

SUN Home Health Services (SHHS) is required by law to maintain the privacy of your protected health information* and to provide you with this notice describing SHHS' legal duties and privacy practices concerning your protected health information. In general, when SHHS uses or discloses your health information, SHHS is obligated to use or disclose only the minimum amount of information necessary to achieve the purpose of the use or disclosure. However, this minimum necessary rule does not apply if the disclosure is to a provider regarding your treatment, to you, or due to a legal requirement. SHHS is required to abide by the privacy practices described in this notice.

*Protected health information is defined as individually identifiable health information transmitted by electronic media, maintained in any electronic media, or transmitted or maintained in any other form or medium. Protected health information does not include employment records maintained by the organization in its capacity as an employer.

However, SHHS reserves the right to change the privacy practices described in this notice, in accordance with the law. Changes to SHHS' privacy practices would apply to all health information maintained by SHHS. If SHHS changes its privacy practices, SHHS will furnish you with a revised copy of its privacy notice at your next visit or upon request.

SHHS provides a broad range of services through a wide variety of home care programs. If you receive services from a SHHS program, SHHS may use your protected health information and disclose it to other health and human services programs outside SHHS, for:

1. Treatment. For example, a health care professional may use the information in your medical record to determine which treatment option best addresses your health needs. The treatment selected will be documented in your medical record so that other health care professionals can make informed decisions about your care.

2. Payment. In order for an insurance company or other health insurer to pay for your treatment, SHHS needs to submit a bill that identifies you, your diagnosis, and the treatment provided to you. SHHS will pass such health information onto an insurer in order to help receive payment for your medical bills.

3. Health Care Operations. SHHS may need your diagnosis, treatment, and outcome information in order to improve the quality and efficiency of care delivered by SHHS. These quality and cost improvement activities may include evaluating the performance of your nurses, therapists, other health care professionals, or examining the effectiveness of the treatment provided to you when compared to similarly situated patients.

SHHS may want to use information found in your medical record, such as your name, address, phone number and treatment dates, to contact you for fund development. For example, in order to provide more charity care or otherwise improve the health of your community, SHHS may want to seek community support and therefore may contact you to consider a donation and/or to let you know about the improvements made through development activities. If you do not wish to have this information shared, you must contact the Community Relations Department of SHHS.

Without your written consent or authorization, SHHS can use your health information for the following purposes:

1. As required or permitted by law. In certain circumstances, SHHS may have to report some of your health information to legal entities, such as law enforcement officials, court officials, or government agencies. Examples of such circumstances may be to report abuse, neglect, domestic violence, dog bites or certain physical injuries, or to respond to a court order.

2. For public health activities. SHHS may be required to report your health information to authorities to help prevent or control disease, injury, or disability. This may include using your medical record to report certain diseases, injuries, birth or death information, information related to the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration, or information related to child, elder, or care dependent person abuse or neglect. SHHS may also have to report certain work-related illnesses and injuries to your employer so that workplace medical surveillance activities can be conducted.

3. For health oversight activities. SHHS may disclose your health information to authorities for audit, investigation, inspection, licensure, disciplinary, or other purposes related to oversight of the health care system or government benefit programs.

4. For activities related to death. SHHS may disclose your health information to coroners, medical examiners, and funeral directors so they can carry out their duties related to your death, such as identifying the body, determining the cause of death, or in the case of funeral directors, to carry out funeral preparation activities.

5. For organ, eye, or tissue donation. SHHS may disclose your health information to entities involved in obtaining, banking, or transplanting organs, eyes, or tissue of cadavers for donation or transplantation purposes, if you have indicated that you were such a donor.

6. For research. Under certain circumstances, and only after a special approval process, SHHS may use and disclose your health information to help conduct research. Such research might involve studies related to evaluating the effectiveness of a treatment.

7. To avoid a serious threat to health or safety. As required by law and standards of ethical conduct, SHHS may use or disclose your health information to the necessary authorities if SHHS believes, in good faith, that such use or disclosure is necessary to prevent or minimize a serious and imminent threat to your or the public's health or safety.

8. For military, national security, or incarceration/law enforcement custody. If you are involved with the military, national security or intelligence activities, or you are in the custody of law enforcement officials or an inmate in a correctional institution, SHHS may disclose your health information to the proper authorities so they may carry out their duties under the law.

9. For workers' compensation. SHHS may disclose your health information to the appropriate persons in order to comply with the laws related to workers' compensation or other similar programs. These programs may provide benefits for work-related injuries or illness.

10. To those involved with your care or payment of your care. If people such as family members, relatives, or close personal friends are helping care for you or helping you pay your medical bills, SHHS may disclose health information about you to those people. You have the right to object to such disclosure, unless you are incapacitated or there is an emergency. In addition, SHHS may disclose your health information to organizations authorized to handle disaster relief efforts so those who care for you can receive information about your location or health status. SHHS may allow you to object or agree orally to such disclosure, unless there is an emergency.

NOTE: Except for the situations listed above, any other use or disclosure of your health information requires SHHS to obtain your written authorization. You may withdraw your authorization at any time, as long as your withdrawal is in writing. If you wish to withdraw your authorization, please submit your written withdrawal to SHHS' Director of Quality Improvement.

Your Health Information Rights
You have several rights with regard to your health information. If you wish to exercise any of the following rights, please contact SHHS' Quality Improvement Department. Specifically, you have the right:

1. To request restrictions on certain uses and disclosures. You have the right to notify SHHS that you want restrictions placed on how your health information is used or to whom your information is disclosed, even if the restriction affects your treatment or SHHS' payment or health care operations activities. Or, you may want to restrict the health information provided to family or friends involved in your care or payment of medical bills. You may also want to restrict the health information provided to authorities involved with disaster relief efforts. However, it should be noted that SHHS is not required to agree in all circumstances to your requested restriction.

If you receive certain medical devices (for example, life-supporting devices used outside SHHS), you may refuse to release your name, address, telephone number, social security number, or other identifying information for purpose of tracking the medical device.

2. As applicable, to receive confidential communication of health information. You have the right to request alternative means or locations when SHHS communicates your health information to you. SHHS must accommodate reasonable requests.

3. To inspect and copy your health information. With a few exceptions, you have the right to inspect and obtain a copy of your health information. However, this right does not apply to psychotherapy notes or information compiled for judicial proceedings, for example. In addition, SHHS may charge you a reasonable fee if you want a copy of your health information.

4. To amend your health information. If you believe your health information is incorrect, you may ask SHHS to amend the information. You will be asked to make such requests in writing and to give a reason as to why your health information should be changed. However, if SHHS did not create the health information that you believe is incorrect, or if SHHS disagrees with you and does believe your health information is correct, SHHS may deny your request.

5. To receive an accounting of disclosures of your health information. In some limited instances, you have the right to request an accounting of the disclosures of your health information SHHS has made during the previous six years, but the request cannot include dates before April 14, 2003 . This accounting must include the date of each disclosure, who received the disclosed health information, a brief description of the health information disclosed, and why the disclosure was made. SHHS must comply with your request for an accounting within 60 days, unless you agree to a 30 day extension, and SHHS may not charge you for the accounting, unless you request such accounting more than once per year. In addition, SHHS will not include in the accounting disclosures made to you, or for purposes of treatment, payment, health care operations, national security, law enforcement/corrections, and certain health oversight activities.

6. To complain. If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you may file a complaint with SHHS and with the federal Department of Health and Human Services. SHHS will not retaliate against you for filing such a complaint. To file a complaint with SHHS or if you have questions or concerns regarding your privacy rights or the information in this notice, please contact SHHS' Privacy Officer at (570) 473-8320.

This Notice of Privacy Practices is effective April 14, 2003.