NOTICE OF PRIVACY PRACTICES

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. Confidentiality:
Uses and Disclosures of Information Requiring Your Authorization or Consent
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. Health care providers are legally allowed to use or disclose records or information for treatment, payment, and health care operations purposes. However, I do not routinely disclose information in such circumstances, so I will require your permission in advance, either through your consent at the onset of our relationship (by signing the attached general consent form), or through your written authorization at the time the need for disclosure arises. You may revoke your permission, in writing, at any time, by contacting me.


II. “Limits of 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, [some because of policies in this office/agency], and some required by law. If you wish to receive mental health services from me, you must sign the attached form indicating that you understand and consent to accept my policies about confidentiality and its limits. We will discuss these issues now, but you may reopen the conversation at any time during our work together.


I may use or disclose records or other information about you without your consent or authorization in the following circumstances, either by policy, or because legally required:


· Emergency If you are involved in 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.
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Child Abuse 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 to the Virginia Department of Social Services ( § 63.2-1509 ).
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Adult Abuse 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 ( § 63.2-1606 ).
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Health Oversight: Virginia law requires that I report misconduct by a mental health care provider of my own profession. By policy, I also reserve the right to report misconduct by health care providers of other professions. 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 a report to the licensing board ( § 54.1-2400.4 ). If you are yourself a health care provider, I am required by law to report to your licensing board if I believe your condition places the public at risk ( § 54.1-2400.7 ). Virginia Licensing Boards have the power, when necessary, to subpoena relevant records for investigating a complaint of provider incompetence or misconduct.
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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 (§ 8.01-399; § 8.01-400.2 ). If I receive a subpoena for records or testimony, I will notify you so that you (or your attorney, or I ) can file a motion to quash (block) the subpoena and can give reasons why I think your records should be protected from disclosure. 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. NOTE: In Virginia civil court cases, therapy information or records are not protected by patient-therapist privilege in child abuse cases, in cases in which your mental health is an issue (e.g., if you sue someone for mental/emotional damages), 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.
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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 ( § 54.1-2400.1 ). 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 ( § 16.1-337 ) or an adult (§ 37.2-804.2

 

· 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.
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Records of Minors: Virginia has a number of laws that limit the confidentiality of the records of minors. For example, parents, regardless of custody, may not be denied access to their child’s records ( § 20-124.6 ); and CSB evaluators in civil commitment cases have legal access to therapy records without notification or consent of parents or child ( § 16.1-342 ). Other circumstances may also apply, and we will discuss these in detail if I provide services to minors.


For Treatment. We may use and disclose your PHI as reasonably necessary to provide for your treatment. We do not need to obtain your permission, written or otherwise, for us to do this. We may disclose PHI about you to doctors, nurses, technicians or other healthcare personnel who are involved in taking care of you.


For Payment. We may use and disclose PHI about you so that the treatment and services you receive may be billed to and payment may be collected from you, an insurance company or a third party. For example, we may need to give your health plan information about a procedure performed in our office so your health plan will pay us or reimburse you for the procedure. We may also tell your health plan about a treatment you are going to receive to obtain prior approval or to determine whether your plan will cover the treatment.


For Health Care Operations. We may use and disclose PHI about you for healthcare operations. These uses and disclosures are necessary to run our office and make sure that all individuals receive quality care. For example, we may use PHI to review our treatment and services and to evaluate the performance of our staff in caring for you.


Appointment Reminders, Test Results. We may use and disclose PHI to contact you as a reminder that you have an appointment for treatment or medical care at our office. In addition, we may use and disclose PHI to notify you of test results.


Treatment Alternatives. We may use and disclose PHI to tell you about or recommend possible treatment options or alternatives that may be of interest to you.


Health-Related Benefits and Services. We may use and disclose PHI to tell you about health related benefits or services that may be of interest to you.


Individuals Involved in Your Care or Payment for Your Care. We may release PHI about you to a friend or family member who is involved in your medical care. We may also give information to someone who helps pay for your care. We may also tell your family or friends your condition and that you are in a hospital.


Research. Under certain circumstances, we may use and disclose PHI about you for research purposes. For example, a research project may involve comparing the health and recovery of all patients who received one medication to those who received another, for the same condition. All research projects, however, are subject to a special approval process. This process evaluates a proposed research project and its use of PHI, trying to balance the research needs with individuals’ need for privacy of their PHI. Before we use or disclose PHI for research, the project will have been approved through this research approval process, but we may, however, disclose PHI about you to people preparing to conduct a research project, for example, to help them look for patients with specific medical needs, so long as the PHI they review does not leave our office. We will almost always ask for your specific permission if the researcher will have access to your name, address or other information that reveals who you are, or will be involved in your care.


As Required By Law. We will disclose PHI about you when required to do so by federal, state or local law.


Organ and Tissue Donation. If you are an organ donor, we may release PHI to organizations that handle organ procurement or organ, eye or tissue transplantation or to an organ donation bank, as necessary to facilitate organ or tissue donation and transplantation.


Military and Veterans. If you are a member of the armed forces, we may release PHI about you as required by military command authorities. We may also release PHI about foreign military personnel to the appropriate foreign military authority.


Public Health Risks. We may disclose PHI about you for public health activities. These activities generally include the following:
to prevent or control disease, injury or disability;
to report births and deaths;
to report child abuse or neglect;
to report reactions to medications or problems with products;
to notify people of recalls of products they may be using;
to notify a person who may have been exposed to a disease or may be at risk for contracting or spreading a disease or condition;
to notify the appropriate government authority if we believe a patient has been the victim of abuse, neglect or domestic violence.


Health Oversight Activities. We may disclose PHI to a health oversight agency for activities authorized by law. These oversight activities include, for example, audits, investigations, inspections, and licensure. These activities are necessary for the government to monitor the health care system, government programs, and compliance with civil rights laws.


Law Enforcement. We may release PHI if asked to do so by a law enforcement official:
In response to a court order, subpoena, warrant, summons or similar process;
To identify or locate a suspect, fugitive, material witness, or missing person;
About the victim of a crime if, under certain limited circumstances, we are unable to obtain the person’s agreement;
About a death we believe may be the result of criminal conduct;
About criminal conduct at our office; and
In emergency circumstances to report a crime; the location of the crime or victims; or the identity, description or location of the person who committed the crime.


Coroners, Medical Examiners and Funeral Directors. We may release PHI to a coroner or medical examiner. This may be necessary, for example, to identify a deceased person or determine the cause of death. We may also release PHI about an individual to funeral directors as necessary to carry out their duties.


National Security and Intelligence Activities. We may release PHI about you to authorized federal officials for intelligence, counterintelligence, and other national security activities authorized by law. Protective Services for the President and Others. We may disclose PHI about you to authorized federal officials so they may provide protection to the President, other authorized persons or foreign heads of state or conduct special investigations.
Inmates. If you are an inmate of a correctional institution or under the custody of a law enforcement official, we may release PHI about you to the correctional institution or law enforcement official. This release would be necessary (1) for the institution to provide you with health care; (2) to protect your health and safety or the health and safety of others; or (3) for the safety and security of the correctional institution.


Pursuant to an Authorization. We will require a signed authorization form before we disclose your PHI to a third party for reasons other than those listed above. We will retain a copy of any signed authorization you give us that is attached to a request to us for your PHI. We will also keep a record of when, to whom and what we provided in response to the request for disclosure. If you have signed an authorization for use to use or disclose your PHI, and decide you want to revoke the authorization, you have the right to revoke it. You must revoke the specific authorization in writing and email to Stephanie Lama at slama@unifybehavioralhealth.com, Attn: Privacy Officer, before your revocation is effective. Once we receive the revocation, or have actual knowledge that you have revoked the authorization, we will make a note of it to assure that we do not make future disclosures pursuant to your original authorization.


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 Provider’s Duties:


· Right to Request Restrictions-You have the right to request restrictions on certain uses and disclosures of protected health information about you. You also have the right to request a limit on the medical information I disclose about you to someone who is involved in your care or the payment for your care. 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.
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Right to Receive Confidential Communications by Alternative Means and at 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 work, or that I do not leave voice mail messages.) To request alternative communication, you must make your request in writing, specifying how or where you wish to be contacted.
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Right to an Accounting of Disclosures – You generally have the right to receive an accounting of disclosures of PHI for which you have neither provided consent nor authorization (as described in section III of this Notice). On your written request, I will discuss with you the details of the accounting process
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Right to Inspect and Copy – In most cases, you have the right to inspect and copy your medical and billing records. To do this, you must submit your request in writing. If you request a copy of the information, I may charge a fee for costs of copying and mailing. I may deny your request to inspect and copy in some circumstances. I may 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.
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Right to Amend – If you feel that protected health information I have about you is incorrect or incomplete, you may ask me to amend the information. To request an amendment, your request must be made in writing, and submitted to me. In addition, you must provide a reason that supports your request. I may deny your request if you ask me to amend information that: 1) was not created by me; I will add your request to the information record; 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 a copy of this notice – You have the right to a paper copy of this notice. You may ask me to give you a copy of this notice at any time.

Changes to this notice: 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 notice will contain the effective date . A new copy will be given to you or posted in the waiting room. I will have copies of the current notice available on request.


Complaints: If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you may file a complaint to the designated privacy officer, Stephanie Lama. To do this, you must submit your request in writing to my office. You can reach our Privacy Officer by calling 857-244-1868 or by email at slama@unifybehavioralhealth.com, Attn: Privacy Officer. You may also send a written complaint to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at: 200 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 20201. You will not be penalized for filing a complaint.
EFFECTIVE DATE: August 21, 2020