Notice of Privacy Practices
IMPORTANT: THIS NOTICE DESCRIBES HOW MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED AND HOW YOU CAN GET ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION. PLEASE REVIEW IT CAREFULLY. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT IT, PLEASE CONTACT US.
Mutual Aid Response Services Inc. (“MARS”) is committed to protecting your personal health information. We are required by law to maintain the privacy of health information that could reasonably be used to identify you, known as “protected health information” (“PHI”). We are also required by law to provide you with this detailed Notice of Privacy Practices (“Notice”) explaining our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to your PHI.
Purpose of This Notice: This Notice describes your legal rights, advises you of our privacy practices, and lets you know how MARS is permitted to use and disclose PHI about you.
Uses and Disclosures of your PHI MARS can make without your authorization
MARS may use or disclose your PHI without your authorization, or without providing you with an opportunity to object, for the following purposes in regards to your treatment. This includes such things as verbal and written information that we obtain about you and use pertaining to your medical condition and treatment provided to you by us, bystanders, and other medical personnel. It also includes information we give to other healthcare personnel to whom we transfer your care and treatment, and includes transfer of PHI via radio or telephone to the hospital or dispatch center.
MARS is also permitted to use or disclose your PHI without your authorization in other situations including:
- For internal use for operations and as part of quality assurance activities or training;
- For the treatment of another healthcare provider;
- To another healthcare provider or entity for the payment activities of the provider or entity that receives the information (such as your hospital or insurance company);
- To another healthcare provider (such as the hospital to which you are transported) for the healthcare operations activities of the entity that receives the information as long as the entity receiving the information has or has had a relationship with you and the PHI pertains to that relationship;
- For healthcare fraud and abuse detection or for activities related to compliance with the law;
- To a family member, relative, friend, or other individual involved in your care if we obtain your verbal agreement to do so or if we give you an opportunity to object to such a disclosure and you do not raise an objection. We may also disclose health information to your family, relatives, or friends if we infer from the circumstances that you would not object. For example, we may assume that you agree to our disclosure of your personal health information to your spouse when your spouse has called the ambulance for you. In situations where you are incapable of objecting (because you are not present or due to your incapacity or medical emergency), we may, in our professional judgment, determine that a disclosure to your family member, relative, or friend is in your best interest. In that situation, we will disclose only health information relevant to that person’s involvement in your care. For example, we may inform the person who will accompanied you in the ambulance that you have certain symptoms and we may give that person an update on your vital signs and treatment that is being administered by medical staff;
- To a public health authority, other public safety agency, or involved organization, as part of a public health investigation, to report child or adult abuse, neglect or domestic violence, to report adverse events such as product defects, safety issues, or to notify a person about exposure to a possible communicable disease;
- For health oversight activities including audits or government investigations, inspections, disciplinary proceedings, and other administrative or judicial actions undertaken by the government by law;
- For judicial and administrative proceedings, as required by a court or administrative order, or in some cases in response to a subpoena or other legal process;
- For military, national defense and security and other special government functions;
- For safety purposes, to avert a serious threat to the health and safety of a person or the public at large;
- For workers’ compensation purposes, and in compliance with workers’ compensation laws;
- To coroners, medical examiners, and funeral directors for identifying a deceased person, determining cause of death, or carrying on their duties as authorized by law;
- For obtaining legal and financial services, or processing grievances and complaints; and
For research projects, but this will be subject to strict oversight and approvals and health information will be released only when there is a minimal risk to your privacy and adequate safeguards are in place in accordance with the law.
Uses and Disclosures of Your PHI That Require Your Written Consent
Any other use or disclosure of PHI, other than those listed above, will only be made with your written authorization (the authorization must specifically identify the information we seek to use or disclose, as well as when and how we seek to use or disclose it). You may revoke your authorization at any time, in writing, except to the extent that we have already used or disclosed medical information in reliance on that authorization.
Your Rights Regarding Your PHI
As a patient, you have a number of rights with respect to your PHI, including:
- Right to access, copy or inspect your PHI. You have the right to inspect and copy most of the medical information that we collect and maintain about you. Requests for access to your PHI should be made in writing to MARS. In limited circumstances, we may deny you access to your medical information, and you may appeal certain types of denials. We will provide a written response if we deny you access and let you know your appeal rights.We may also charge you a reasonable cost-based fee for providing you access to your PHI, subject to the limits of applicable state law.We will normally provide you with access to this information within 30 days of your written request. In addition, if you request that we provider a copy of your PHI directly to another person, we will do so provided your request is in writing, signed by you (or your representative), and you clearly identify the designated person and where to send the copy of your PHI.
- Right to request an amendment of your PHI. You have the right to ask us to amend protected health information that we maintain about you. Requests for amendments to your PHI should be made in writing.When required by law to do so, we will amend your information within 60 days of your request and will notify you when we have amended the information. We are permitted by law to deny your request to amend your medical information in certain circumstances, such as when we believe that the information you have asked us to amend is correct.
- Right to request an accounting of uses and disclosures of your PHI. You may request an accounting from us of disclosures of your medical information. If you wish to request an accounting of disclosures of your PHI that are subject to the accounting requirement, please make a request in writing.You have the right to receive an accounting of certain disclosures of your PHI made within six (6) years immediately preceding your request. But, we are not required to provide you with an accounting of disclosures of your PHI: (a) for purposes of treatment, payment, or healthcare operations; (b) for disclosures that you expressly authorized; (c) disclosures made to you, your family or friends, or (d) for disclosures made for law enforcement or certain other governmental purposes.
- Right to request restrictions on uses and disclosures of your PHI. You have the right to request that we restrict how we use and disclose your medical information for treatment, payment or healthcare operations purposes, or to restrict the information that is provided to family, friends and other individuals involved in your healthcare. However, we are only required to abide by a requested restriction under limited circumstances, and it is generally our policy that we will not agree to any restrictions unless required by law to do so. If you wish to request a restriction on the use or disclosure of your PHI, please submit a request in writing.
Notwithstanding, if you request a restriction that we agree to, and the information you asked us to restrict is needed to provide you with emergency treatment, then we may disclose the PHI to a healthcare provider to provide you with emergency treatment.
A restriction may be terminated if you agree to or request the termination. Most current restrictions may also be terminated by MARS as long we notify you. If so, PHI that is created or received after the restriction is terminated is no longer subject to the restriction. But, PHI that was restricted prior to the notice to you voiding the restriction must continue to be treated as restricted PHI.
- Right to notice of a breach of unsecured protected health information. If we discover that there has been a breach of your unsecured PHI, we will attempt to notify you about that breach.
- Right to request confidential communications. You have the right to request that we send your PHI in a specific manner. However, we will only comply with reasonable requests when required by law to do so.
Revisions to the Notice
MARS is required to abide by the terms of the version of this Notice currently in effect. However, MARS reserves the right to change the terms of this Notice at any time, and the changes will be effective immediately and will apply to all PHI that we maintain. Any material changes to the Notice will be promptly posted on our website.
Your Legal Rights and Complaints
You also have the right to complain to us, or to the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, if you believe that your privacy rights have been violated. You will not be retaliated against in any way for filing a complaint with us or to the government.
Should you have any questions, comments, or complaints, please contact us.