Patient privacy and your health information
You have privacy rights under a federal law that protects your health information. These rights are important for you to know. Federal law sets rules and limits on who can access your health information.
Who must follow this law?
- Doctors, nurses, pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and many other health care providers
- Health insurance companies, HMOs and employer group health plans
- Certain government programs that pay for health care, such as Medicare and Medicaid
What information is protected?
- Information your doctors, nurses and other health care providers put in your medical records
- Conversations your doctor has with nurses and others regarding your care or treatment
- Information about you in your health insurer's computer system
- Billing information about you at your clinic
- Most other health information about you held by those who must follow this law
You have rights over your health information.
Providers and health insurers who are required to follow this law must comply with your right to:
- access a copy of your health records.
- make corrections to your health information.
- receive a notice that tells you how your health information may be used and shared.
- decide if you want to give permission before your health information can be used or shared for certain purposes, such as marketing.
- be notified when and why your health information is shared for certain purposes.
- file a complaint.
To make sure that your health information is protected in a way that doesn't interfere with your health care, your information can be used and shared:
- for your treatment and care coordination.
- to pay doctors and hospitals for your health care and help run their businesses.
- with your family, relatives, friends or others you identify who are involved with your health care or your health care bills, unless you object.
- to make sure doctors provide good care and nursing homes are clean and safe.
- to protect the public's health, such as reporting when the flu is in your area.
- to make required reports to the police, such as reporting gunshot wounds.
Without your written permission, your provider cannot:
- give your health information to your employer.
- use or share your health information for marketing or advertising purposes.
- share private notes about your mental health counseling sessions.
If you believe your health information was used or shared in a way that is not allowed under the privacy law, or if you weren't able to exercise your rights, you can file a complaint with the Huntsville Hospital Privacy Officer or with the Secretary of Health and Human Services. To file a confidential complaint with the Huntsville Hospital Privacy Officer, call (256) 265-4477. To file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights, contact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 61 Forsyth St., SW, Suite 3870, Atlanta, GA 30323. For more information visit www.hhs.gov/ocr/hippa/.
For more information go online to the
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.