We respect our legal obligation to keep health information that identifies you private. We are obligated by law to give you notice of our privacy practices. This Notice describes how we protect your health information and what rights you have regarding it.
The most common reason why we use or disclose your health information is for treatment, payment or health care operations. Examples of how we use or disclose information for treatment purposes are: setting up an appointment for you; testing or examining your eyes; prescribing glasses, contact lenses, or eye medications and faxing them to be filled; showing you low vision aids; referring you to another doctor or clinic for eye care or low vision aids or services; or getting copies of your health information from another professional that you may have seen before us. Examples of how we use or disclose your health information for payment purposes are: asking you about your health or vision care plans, or other sources of payment; preparing and sending bills or claims; and collecting unpaid amounts (either ourselves or through a collection agency or attorney). “Health care operations” means those administrative and managerial functions that we have to do in order to run our office. Examples of how we use or disclose your health information for health care operations are: financial or billing audits; internal quality assurance; personnel decisions; participation in managed care plans; defense of legal matters; and business planning.
We routinely use your health information inside our office for these purposes without any special permission. We also share your information with other health care providers, insurers, and administrative entities when necessary in order to provide appropriate treatment, secure payment, or carry out administrative functions. We ask for your consent to the disclosure of your health information for the purposes of treatment, payment and health care operations by signing the “Acknowledgement of Review and General Consent” attached to this form and returning it to us.
The law also allows or requires us to use or disclose your health information without a specific authorization for other reasons. Not all of these situations will apply to us; some may never come up at our office at all. Such uses or disclosures are:
Unless you object, we will also share relevant information about your care with your family or friends who are helping you with your eye care.
We ask that you consent to the disclosure of your health information for the reasons listed above by signing the “Acknowledgement of Review and General Consent” attached to this Notice and returning it to us.
We may call or write to remind you of scheduled appointments, or that it is time to make a routine appointment. We may also call or write to notify you of other treatments or services available at our office that might help you. Unless you tell us otherwise, we may mail you an appointment reminder on a post card, and/or leave you a reminder message on your home or office answering machine/voicemail or with someone who answers your phone if you are not home or available at the office to take the call.
We will not make any other uses or disclosures of your health information unless you sign a specific "authorization form.” While the Acknowledgement of Review and General Consent form contains general language allowing us to use and disclose your health information for treatment, payment, health care operations and other purposes permitted by law, the authorization form more specifically describes the purpose of the use or disclosure, the nature of the information that will be used or disclosed and the persons or groups of persons to whom the information will be made available. The content of an “authorization form” is determined by federal law. Sometimes, we may initiate the authorization process if the use or disclosure is our idea. Sometimes, you may initiate the process if it’s your idea for us to send your information to someone else. Typically, in this situation you will give us a properly completed authorization form, or you can use one of ours. If we initiate the process and ask you to sign an authorization form, you do not have to sign it. If you do not sign the authorization, we cannot make the use or disclosure. If you do sign one, you may revoke it at any time unless we have already acted in reliance upon it. Revocations must be in writing. Please send them to the office contact person named at the beginning of this Notice.
New York State law includes special protections for HIV-related information. We will not disclose information concerning your HIV status or HIV testing without obtaining a specific written authorization, except under certain circumstances in which such a disclosure is authorized or required by law. For example, we would be permitted to disclose such information to certain agents or employees of your health care providers that are authorized to obtain such information for treatment or payment purposes, to health care facility staff committees and health care facility accreditation or oversight organizations, to a public health officer when mandated by law, to your health insurer or vision plan for purposes of securing reimbursement if we obtained your general consent to such disclosures, pursuant to a court order and certain other purposes.
Health information possessed by federally-supported alcohol and substance abuse treatment programs is also subject to special protections under federal law. If we receive information about you from one of these programs, we will not re-disclose it without your specific written authorization, except under circumstances in which such a disclosure is authorized or required by law, such as to medical personnel who need this information for the purpose of providing you with emergency treatment, to the Food and Drug Administration for the purpose of identifying potentially dangerous products, for research purposes if approved by our privacy board, to authorized persons conducting on-site audits of our records, subject to the requirement that these persons not remove the information from our facilities and agree in writing to safeguard the information; and in response to an appropriate court order.
The law gives you many rights regarding your health information. You can:
By law, we must abide by the terms of this Notice of Privacy Practices until we choose to change it. We reserve the right to change this notice at any time as allowed by law. If we change this Notice, the new privacy practices will apply to your health information that we already have as well as to such information that we may generate in the future. If we change our Notice of Privacy Practices, we will post the new notice in our office, have copies available in our office, and post it on our Web site.
If you think that we have not properly respected the privacy of your health information, you are free to complain to us or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights. We will not retaliate against you if you make a complaint. If you want to complain to us, send a written complaint to the office HIPAA Complaince Officer at our address, via fax or E mail. If you prefer, you can discuss your complaint in person or by phone.
If you want more information about our privacy practices, please contact the Bernstein Center and ask for our Compliance Officer.