HIPAA NOTICE OF PRIVACY POLICIES TO PROTECT THE PRIVACY OF YOUR HEALTH INFORMATION
EFFECTIVE AS OF OCTOBER 1, 2022
This information is being provided as required by the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This notice describes how psychological and medical information about you may be used and disclosed and how you can get access to this information.
I have a duty to maintain privacy of your health information and to provide you with this notice. You will be asked to sign an Informed Consent. Once you have signed the Informed Consent, I may use or disclose your Protected Health Information (PHI) for purposes of diagnosis, treatment, obtaining payment, or to conduct healthcare operations. For example, if you choose to use insurance, to receive payment I must provide information about you to your insurance company.
As a rule, I will disclose no information about you, or the fact that you are my patient, without your written consent. My formal Mental Health Record describes the services provided to you and contains the dates of our sessions, your diagnosis, functional status, symptoms, prognosis and progress, and any psychological testing reports. If you request that I disclose information about you, I will require your written authorization to do so (unless the disclosure is related to the limits of confidentiality outlined below).You may revoke your authorization by contacting me in writing at any time.
II. Limits to Confidentiality
Possible Uses and Disclosures of Mental Health Records without Consent or Authorization
There are some important exceptions to this rule of confidentiality, some exceptions created voluntarily by my own choice, and some required by law. I may use or disclose records or other information about you without your consent or authorization in the following circumstances:
• Emergency: If you are involved in a life threatening emergency and I cannot ask your permission, I will share information if I believe you would have wanted me to do so, or if I believe it will be helpful to you.
• Child Abuse or Neglect Reporting: If I have reason to suspect that a child is abused or neglected, I am required by Virginia law to report the matter immediately and provide relevant information to the Virginia Department of Social Services.
• Adult Abuse or Neglect Reporting: If I have reason to suspect that an elderly or incapacitated adult is abused, neglected or exploited, I am required by Virginia law to immediately make a report and provide relevant information to the Virginia Department of Welfare or Social Services.
• Health Oversight: Virginia law requires that licensed therapists report misconduct by other therapists. By law, if you describe unprofessional conduct by another mental health provider of any profession, I am required to explain to you how to make such a report. If you are yourself a health care provider,I am required by law to report to your licensing board that you are in treatment with me if I believe your condition places the public at risk. Virginia Licensing Boards have the power, when necessary, to subpoena relevant records in investigating a complaint of provider incompetence or misconduct.
• Court Proceedings: If you are involved in a court preceding and a request is made for information about your diagnosis and treatment and the records thereof, such information is privileged under state law, and I will not release information unless you provide written authorization or a judge issues a court order. If I receive a subpoena for records or testimony, I will notify you so you can file a motion to quash (block) the subpoena. However, while awaiting the judge’s decision, I am required to place said records in a sealed envelope and provide them to the Clerk of Court. In civil court cases, therapy information is not protected by patient-therapist privilege in child abuse cases, in cases in which your mental health is an issue, or in any case in which the judge deems the information to be “necessary for the proper administration of justice.” In criminal cases, Virginia has no statute granting therapist-patient privilege, although records can sometimes be protected on another basis. Protections of privilege may not apply if I do an evaluation for a third party or where the evaluation is court-ordered. You will be informed in advance if this is the case.
• Serious Threat to Health or Safety: Under Virginia law,if I am engaged in my professional duties and you communicate to me a specific and immediate threat to cause serious bodily injury or death, to an identified or to an identifiable person, and I believe you have the intent and ability to carry out that threat immediately or imminently, I am legally required to take steps to protect third parties. These precautions may include 1) warning the potential victim(s), or the parent or guardian of the potential victim(s), if under 18, 2) notifying a law enforcement officer, or 3) seeking your hospitalization. By my own policy, I may also use and disclose medical information about you when necessary to prevent an immediate, serious threat to your own health and safety. If you become a party in a civil commitment hearing, I can be required to provide your records to the magistrate, your attorney or guardian ad litem, a CSB evaluator, or law enforcement officer, whether you are a minor or an adult.
• Workers Compensation: If you file a worker’s compensation claim, I am required by law, upon request, to submit your relevant mental health information to you, your employer, the insurer, or a certified rehabilitation provider. Other uses and disclosures of information not covered by this notice or by the laws that apply to me will be made only with your written permission.
III. Patient’s Rights and Mental Health Clinician’s Duties
• Right to Request Restrictions: You have the right to request restrictions on certain uses and disclosures of protected health information about you. If you ask me to disclose information to another party, you may request that I limit the information I disclose. However, I am not required to agree to a restriction you request. To request restrictions, you must make your request in writing, and tell me: 1) what information you want to limit; 2) whether you want to limit my use, disclosure or both; and 3) to whom you want the limits to apply.
• Right to Receive Confidential Communications by Alternative Means and Alternative Locations: You have the right to request and receive confidential communications of PHI by alternative means and at alternative locations. (For example, you may not want a family member to know that you are seeing me. Upon your request, I will send your bills to another address. You may also request that I contact you only at a certain phone number, or that I do not leave voice mail messages or use email correspondence). To request alternative communication, you must make your request in writing, specifying how or where you wish to be contacted.
• Right to Inspect and Copy: You have the right to inspect and request copies of information that may be used to make decisions about your care. Usually this includes demographic and billing records but does not include psychotherapy notes. To inspect and/or receive copies of information, you must submit a request in writing. If you request a copy of information, I may charge a fee for the cost of copying, mailing or other supplies associated with your request. I must respond to your request within fifteen days of receipt. I may deny your access to PHI under certain circumstances, but in some cases, you may have the decision reviewed. I may also refuse to provide you access to certain psychotherapy notes or to information compiled in reasonable anticipation of, or use in, a civil criminal, or administrative proceeding.
• Right to Amend: If you feel that health information about you is incorrect or incomplete, you may ask me to amend the information. You have the right to request an amendment for as long as the information is kept by me. Your request for amendment must be in writing and must provide a reason supporting your request. I may deny your request if you ask me to amend information that: 1) was not created by me; 2) is not part of the medical information kept by me; 3) is not part of the information which you would be permitted to inspect and copy; 4) is accurate and complete.
• Right to an Accounting of Disclosures: You generally have the right to request an Accounting of Disclosures I have made of information about you. You must submit your request in writing to the above address. Your request must state a time period for the disclosures, which may not be longer than six years and may not include dates before October 1, 2022
• Right to a Paper Copy: You have the right to obtain a paper copy of the notice from me upon request, even if you have agreed to receive the notice electronically. You may ask me to give you a copy of this notice at any time. I reserve the right to change my policies and/or to change this notice, and to make the changed notice effective for medical information I already have about you as well as any information I receive in the future. The new notice will contain the effective date. A new copy will be given to you or posted on the website. I will have copies of the current notice available on request.
• Right to Restrict Disclosures When You Have Paid for Your Care Out of Pocket: You have the right to restrict certain disclosures of PHI to a health plan when you pay out of pocket or in full for my services.
• Right to Be Notified if There is a Breach of Your Unsecured PHI: You have a right to be notified if (a) there is a breach (a use or disclosure of your PHI in violation of the HIPAA Privacy Rule) involving your PHI;(b) that PHI has not been encrypted to government standards; and (c) my risk assessment fails to determine that there is a low probability that your PHI has been compromised.
Mental Health Clinician’s Duties:
• I am required by law to maintain the privacy of PHI and to provide you with a notice of my legal duties and privacy practices with respect to PHI.
• I reserve the right to change the privacy policies and practices described in the notice. Unless I notify you of such changes, however, I am required to abide by the terms currently in effect. If I revise my policies and procedures, I will notify current clients and post the new policies on the website.
Other uses and disclosures of Protected Health Information and any disclosure of Psychotherapy
Notes will be made only with your written authorization. After such authorization is given, you may revoke that authorization at any time. This Notice may be amended as needed to comply with federal, state and professional requirements.
If you are concerned that I have violated your privacy rights, or you disagree with a decision I made about access to your records, you may contact me directly at the office address, phone number or email address. You may also send a written complaint to the Secretary of the U.S.Department of Health and Human Services.
This notice will go into effect October 1, 2022. I reserve the right to change the terms of this notice and to make the new notice provisions effective for all PHI that I maintain. I will notify current clients of changes in person or by mail and closed client cases can, if interested, call and ask if our policies have changed and obtain a copy by mail or view one on our website.