Notice of Privacy Practices

THIS NOTICE DESCRIBES HOW MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED AND HOW YOU CAN OBTAIN ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION. PLEASE REVIEW IT CAREFULLY.

 

Introduction

Mercy Health Services* (“MHS”) is required by law to maintain the privacy of identifiable information that relates to your physical or mental health, the health care you have received, or payment for your health care. As required by law, this notice provides you with information about your rights and our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to medical information. This notice also discusses the uses and disclosures MHS will make of your medical information. MHS must comply with the provisions of this notice, although MHS reserves the right to change the terms of this notice from time to time and to make the revised notice effective for all medical information that MHS maintains. You can always request a dated copy of our most current privacy notice from any of our facilities or you can access it on our website at www.mdmercy.com.

Permitted Uses & Disclosures

MHS may use or disclose medical information about you, without your authorization, for purposes related to/for:

  • Treatment: Treatment means the coordination of your care between various healthcare providers and specialists for consultations. 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. Therefore, the doctor may review your medical records to assess whether you have potentially complicating conditions such as diabetes.

  • Payment: Payment refers to activities related to verifying your level of insurance benefits, requesting authorizations for treatment and referrals for special tests, and billing/administrative purposes. For example, MHS may need to provide information to your insurance plan about your medical condition in order to determine whether the proposed course of treatment will be covered.

  • Health Care Operations: Health care operations include quality assurance, case management, patient complaints, audits, and physician reviews. For example, MHS may use your medical information to evaluate the performance of our staff in caring for you.

  • Friends/family: When friends/family are involved in your care or payment for your care, MHS may allow them to pick up medical supplies, x-rays, or filled prescriptions on your behalf. We may also include certain non-treatment information in a facility directory. If you are available, we will allow you to object to these disclosures. If you are unavailable, MHS will use professional judgment to determine what is in your best interest.

  • Appointments & Other Health Benefits: MHS may contact you to remind you about your appointments and bring to your attention alternative treatment suggestions and other health related benefits.

  • Fundraising: MHS may contact you as part of our fundraising efforts to support our healthcare mission.

  • Organ & Tissue Donation: MHS may disclose your medical information to organizations that handle organ and tissue procurement and donations.

  • Military Authorities: If you are a member of the U.S. Armed Forces or foreign military, MHS may release medical information about you to appropriate military command authorities.

  • Workers' Compensation: MHS may disclose medical information to comply with workers' compensation laws.

  • Public Health Risks: MHS may disclose your medical information to public health officials for the purpose of preventing or controlling disease, injury or disability, including reporting suspected child abuse or neglect.

  • Health Oversight: MHS may disclose your medical information to federal or state agencies that oversee the health care system, government programs, and enforcement of civil rights laws for activities such as audits, investigations, or inspections.

  • Legal Proceedings: MHS may disclose your medical information in response to a court order, subpoena, or other lawful process.

  • Law Enforcement: MHS may disclose your medical information to law enforcement officials to aid in the search for a criminal or fugitive or a criminal investigation.

  • Coroners, Medical Examiners, and Funeral Directors: MHS may disclose your medical information to identify a deceased person, determine cause of death, and to help funeral directors carry out their duties.

  • National Security: MHS may disclose your medical information to authorized federal authorities for national security activities permissible by law or to protect the President of the United States or other authorized persons.

  • Inmates: MHS may provide a correctional facility with an inmate’s medical information for their health care and to protect the health and safety of others.

  • Research: MHS may disclose your medical information to researchers that have received proper approval from our research review board.

  • Health or Safety: As permitted by applicable law and ethical conduct, MHS may use and disclose medical information if its staff believes, in good faith, that such use or disclosure is necessary to prevent serious harm to you and to others. We may share your information for disaster relief efforts or in emergency situations.

  • Maryland Health Information Exchange/CRISP: MHS has chosen to participate in the Chesapeake Regional Information System for our Patients, Inc. (CRISP), a statewide internet-based health information exchange. As permitted by law, your health information will be shared with this exchange in order to provide faster access, better coordination of care and assist providers and public health officials in making more informed decisions. You may “opt-out” and prevent searching of your health information available through CRISP by calling 1-877-952-7477 or completing and submitting an Opt-Out form to CRISP by mail, fax or through their website at www.crisphealth.org

Other uses and disclosures of your health information will be made only with your authorization. You have the right to revoke such authorization.

Your Rights

As a patient of Mercy Health Services, you have the right to:

  • Request to view and copy your medical records. A fee may be charged for the cost of copying or mailing your records; however, you will not be denied copies if you cannot afford to pay for them.

  • Request to amend your medical information.

  • Request an accounting of certain disclosures of medical information.

  • Opt out of our facility directory.

  • Request restrictions on our use of your medical information for treatment, payment, health care operations and friends/family; however MHS is not required to accept your request.

  • Request that MHS communicate with you in a certain way or at a certain location for confidentiality.

  • Receive this Notice of Privacy Practices in a paper copy, even if you initially received it in an electronic format or viewed it on MHS’ website.

Mercy Health Service’s Duties

We are required by law to maintain the privacy of your protected health information, and to provide you with a copy of our Privacy Practices. We are required by law to abide by the statements within this Notice of Privacy Practices, effective September 1, 2011. Mercy Health Services reserves the right to make any necessary changes and updates to our Privacy Practices, and these new provisions affect all protected health information that we maintain. If we change any of our Privacy Practices, an updated Notice of Privacy Practices will be made available upon request and posted in a clear and prominent location.

Should you have a complaint, question, or feel that your privacy rights have been violated, please contact our Privacy Officer at (410) 576-LAWS (5297). You may also file a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights at (866) 627-7748. We will not retaliate against you for filing a complaint.


* For purposes of this Notice, "Mercy Health Services" includes Mercy Medical Center, Inc., Stella Maris, Inc., St. Paul Place Specialists, Inc., Maryland Family Care, Inc., and other affiliated health care providers.

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Disclaimers and Copyright

The material on this site is provided for your information and education only. You should never treat yourself for a medical condition based on the information we have provided here. Likewise, you should never decide that you do not need treatment based on this information. In other words, the information available through this site should not be interpreted as medical or professional advice. All medical information, from this or any other source, needs to be reviewed carefully with your own doctor before you act upon it in any way. If you are sick, you have to go to the doctor. No exceptions.

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With respect to documents and information available from this site, Mercy Medical Center, Inc. its affiliated physicians, employees, directors, agents and any other parties involved in the creation, production or delivery of the site are not liable for any direct, incidental, consequential, indirect, or punitive damages arising out of your access to, or use of, the site. Mercy Medical Center is providing this site and its contents on an "as is" basis and makes no representations or warranties of any kind with respect to this site or its contents. Mercy Medical Center disclaims all such representations and warranties, including for example waaranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. Likewise, Mercy Medical Center disclaims any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, procedure, method, apparatus, product, or process posted on the site. Neither Mercy Medical Center, nor its physicians, employees, or associates assumes any responsibility for loss or damages resulting from the use of information contained on this site.

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Proprietary Rights

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Other Sites

Mercy Medical Center has not reviewed all of the sites linked to the Mercy site, and is not responsible for the contents of any off-site pages or any other sites linked to the site. Mercy Medical Center expressly disclaims all liability for images, content, and opinion expressed on other sites that may be accessed through links on the Mercy site. Likewise, Mercy Medical Center disclaims all liability for images, content, and opinion expressed on outside sites that choose to link to the Mercy page.

Safe Harbor Regulations

For some time now, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has been examining safe harbors for physician referral programs. Complying with these harbors guarantees that you will have no legal problems regarding the fraud and abuse regulations. Foregoing the implementation of one or more of these harbors does not guarantee a problem, but may put you in a riskier, grayer area of the law. Proposed harbors were released in January 1989. The final harbors were released in the Federal Register on July 29,1991.

As reported in this document, the following are the four standards:

The referral service does not exclude as a participant in the referral service any individual or entity who meets the qualifications for participation.

Any payment the participant makes to the referral service is assessed equally against and collected equally from all participants, and is only based on the cost of operating the referral service, and not on the volume or value of any referrals to or business otherwise generated by the participants for the referrals to or business otherwise generated by the participants for the referral service which payment may be made in whole or in part under Medicare or State health care programs.

The referral service imposes no requirements on the manner in which the participant provides services to a referred person, except that the referral service may require that the participant charge the person referred at the same rate as it charges other persons not referred by the referral service, or that these services be furnished free of charge or at reduced charge.

The referral service makes the following five disclosures to each person seeking a referral, with each such disclosure maintained by the referral service in a written record certifying such disclosure and signed by either such person seeking a referral or by the individual making the disclosure on behalf of the referral service:

  • The manner in which it selects the group of participants in the referral service to which it could make a referral.
  • Whether the participant has paid a fee to the referral service.
  • The manner in which it selects a particular participant from this group for that person.
  • The nature of the relationship between the referral service and the group of participants to whom it could make the referral.
  • The nature of any restrictions that would exclude such an individual or entity from continuing as a participant.

 

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