Privacy/Legal Matters

StarCare Specialty Health System
Notice of Privacy Practices
Effective Date: April 14, 2003

This notice gives you information about the type of data we collect and keep, how we protect that data and to whom and under what circumstances we may release that data.

Because you receive services from the StarCare Specialty Health System the Center collects and maintains information about you. That information includes:

  • Your past, present or future physical or mental health or condition;
  • the care and services provided to you; and
  • past, present and future payments charged for your care and services.

The following notice tells you about the Center’s responsibility to protect your information, your privacy rights and how the Center may use or disclose this information.

Center Duties:

The Center is required by law to protect your health information. This means that the Center will not use or disclose your health information without your permission, with some exceptions, which we will outline in this notice. All health information about you will be kept private no matter when you received services. The Center will not allow anyone to film, photograph, interview or record you without your written permission. We will not tell anyone if you are receiving services or may have received services in the past.

If the Center receives a legally authorized directive to disclose your health information, we will only disclose the information necessary to meet the request and where possible we will de-identify your protected health information prior to release.

The Center will ask for your written permission to use or disclose your health information unless we are permitted to use or disclose your health information without your permission as outlined in this notice. If you have given us your permission to use or disclose your health information and you want to revoke that permission you may do so at any time by contacting your service coordinator or case coordinator or the release of information clerk at (806) 740-1505. However, you cannot hold us liable for any use or disclosure of health information prior to the revocation.

The Center is required to give you this notice that outlines our duties and privacy practices and be able to verify through your signature on the attached page that you have received this information. If the Center changes any of its privacy practices we have to notify you of those changes.

Center staff, as a condition of their employment, must protect the privacy of your health information. Center staff will share information about you on a “need to know” basis. Serious consequences are given to staff who do not protect the privacy of your health information.

If you are receiving treatment for chemical dependency (drug/alcohol) your records are protected by a federal law. (Code of Federal Regulations, Title 2, Part 2) Violations of those laws are a crime and suspected violations may be reported to appropriate authorities. Federal law does not protect any information about a crime, which a person may have committed against an employee of the Center or a threat made against an employee of the Center. Federal laws also do not protect any information about suspected child abuse or neglect, which has been reported under State law to appropriate State of local authorities.

Your Privacy Rights:

In most situations you have the right to look at or get a copy of the health information that the Center has about you. If you think the information maintained by the Center is incomplete or incorrect, you have the right to ask Center staff to put corrected information into your chart. The Center cannot destroy or change its records, but we will add the corrected information to your chart and make a note that you have provided that information. The request to make a correction must be in writing and you must explain why you believe the correction should be made.

You have a right to know when and to whom the Center has released information about you for reasons other than treatment, payment, health care operations and certain other reasons as provided by law, except when you have authorized the Center to disclose that information. The request for this information must be in writing to the Center’s Release of Information Clerk.

You have the right to request a list each time the Center has disclosed information about you for reasons other than treatment, payment or health care operations, and other reasons as provided by law, except when you have authorized the Center to disclose the information. The request for the list must be in writing.

You have a right to request that the Center communicates with you about your health information at an alternative location or in a different manner.

You have the right to receive a copy of this notice at any time you ask for one.

Treatment, Payment and Health Care Operations:

The Center can use your health information to provide treatment to you, to obtain payment for services provided to you, or for the Center’s own health care operations, as allowed by law.

Health information about you may be exchanged between the Center and TDMHMR Facilities such as State Schools and State Hospitals, other Community MHMR Centers, other designated providers, and subcontractors for mental health or mental retardation services, for the purpose of treatment, payment or health care operations, without your consent.

Treatment: The Center can use your health information to provide, coordinate or manage health care or related services. This includes providing care to you, consulting with another health care provider about you, and referring you to another provider.

Example: The Center can use your health information to prescribe medication for you. Payment: The Center can use your health information to get paid for providing health care to you or to provide benefits to you under a health plan such as the Medicaid program.

Example: The Center can use your health information to bill your insurance company for the services provided to you, or to provide benefits to you under a health plan such as the Medicaid program. Health Care Operations: The Center can use your health information for its health care operations. This includes: activities to improve the quality of health care; evaluating Center programs; developing procedures; case management; case coordination; reviewing the competence, qualification and performance of health care professionals and others; conducting training programs in areas related to health care; conducting accreditation, certification, licensing or credentialing activities; providing medical review, legal services, or auditing functions; resolution of internal grievances; and engaging in business planning and management or the general administrative activities of the Center.

Example: The Center can use your health information to develop procedures for managing your health needs.

If you are receiving treatment for chemical dependency the Center will not disclose information related to your treatment to anyone without your written authorization. However, we can use that information to provide services to you. Our Center will not disclose health information about you pertaining to HIV or AIDS without your specific authorization.

Unless you receive treatment for chemical dependency the Center is permitted to use or disclose your health information without your authorization for the following purposes:

When required by certain judicial and administrative proceedings:

  • In a license revocation proceeding. The Center may disclose your health information if you have filed a complaint against a doctor or other mental health or mental retardation professional and the information is needed in a license revocation proceeding.
  • In a proceeding to collect payment. The Center may disclose your health information to a court or administrative judge to collect payment for mental or emotional services provided to you.
  • For court-ordered examinations. The Center may disclose your health information if a court orders that you be examined for a mental or emotional condition or disorder.
  • In a criminal proceeding. The Center may release your health information in a criminal proceeding if a court has ordered or subpoenaed the information to be produced.
  • In a proceeding regarding abuse or neglect. The Center may disclose your health information to a court or administrative judge in a proceeding regarding abuse or neglect of a consumer.
  • In a commitment proceeding. The Center may disclose your health information in an involuntary commitment proceeding for court-ordered treatment of services.
  • In other judicial and administrative proceedings. The Center may disclose your health information in response to an order or subpoena issued by a court of administrative judge.

For other purposes:

  • When required by law. The Center can use or disclose your health information when state or federal law requires the use or disclosure.
  • To address a serious threat to health or safety. The Center may use or disclose your health information to medical or law enforcement personnel if Center staff determines that there is a probability of immediate physical harm to you or others and the information is necessary to prevent it.
  • For audits and evaluations. The Center may disclose your health information to qualified personnel for management audits, financial audits, program evaluations, but the people who receive the information cannot disclose your identity.
  • For payment for services of a professional. The Center may disclose certain parts of your health information to people, corporations, or government agencies to pay for mental or emotional health services provided by a doctor or other person licensed to provide these services.
  • To doctors and other medical personnel. The Center may disclose your health information to a doctor or other person licensed to provide services for a mental condition or to personnel under their direction.
  • In an emergency. The Center may disclose specific health information to medical personnel so they can provide emergency service to you in a safe manner.
  • For research. The Center may use or disclose your health information if a special board approved the use of confidential information for a research project, providing that the information is kept in strict confidence, or if information identifying you is removed from the health information.
  • To a government authority if the Center thinks that you are the victim of abuse. The Center may disclose your health information to agencies legally authorized to investigate a report that you may have been abuse or have been denied your rights.
  • To Advocacy, Inc. In accordance with federal laws the Center may disclosure your health information to Advocacy, Inc. to investigate a complaint by you or on your behalf.
  • To comply with legal requirements. The Center may disclose your health information to an employee or agent of a doctor or other professional who is treating you, in order to comply with statutory, licensing, or accreditation requirements, as long as the professional does not disclose your information for any other reason and takes steps to protect your information.
  • For purposes relating to death. If you die the Center may disclose health information about you to your personal representative and to coroners or medical examiners for the purpose of identifying you or determining the cause of death.
  • To a correctional institution. If you are in custody of a correctional institution the Center may disclose your health information to the institution in order to provide health care to you.
  • For medical insurance claims. If you die, or if a court finds that you are incompetent, the Center may disclose your health information in order for your health insurance to pay for your health care.
  • Within the DSHS or DADS service delivery system. The Center may disclose your health information to DSHS  or DADS facilities, such as State Schools or State Hospitals, to local mental health and mental retardation authorities, to other MHMR Centers, and other providers of mental health or mental retardation services for the purpose of treatment, payment and certain health care operations.
  • For continuity of care for special needs offenders. If you have been convicted of a crime and are in the custody or under any form of criminal justice supervision, or if criminal charges are pending against you, the Center may disclose your health information to agencies or persons who are involved in your treatment or supervision for the purpose of treatment, payment or certain health care operations. *This does not include information about chemical dependency treatment.
  • To locate you if you are missing from a mental health facility. If you have been committed by a court to a mental health facility, and are missing from that facility, the Center may disclose certain information about you to law enforcement personnel in order to return you to the mental health facility.
  • For government benefits programs. The Center may use or disclose your health information as needed for the administration of a governmental benefit program, such as Medicaid.
  • To the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The Center must disclose your health information to the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services when requested in order to enforce the privacy laws.
  • To your parents or guardians if you are a minor or have been adjudicated an incompetent adult. The Center may release your health information to your natural parents or your guardians if you are a minor, or to your guardian if you have been adjudicated to be an incompetent adult.

If you are receiving treatment for chemical dependency, the Center may not say to any person outside of the Center that you have been admitted to facility or that you are receiving chemical dependency treatment or services, and may not disclose any information identifying you as an alcohol or drug abuser. The Center may only disclose information about your substance abuse treatment without your authorization in the following circumstances:

  • Pursuant to a special court order that complies with 42 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 2, Subpart E;
  • to medical personnel in a medical emergency;
  • to qualified personnel for research, audit, or program evaluation; or
  • to report suspected child abuse or neglect.

Federal and State laws prohibit redisclosure of information about chemical dependency treatment without your authorization.

Complaint Process:

If you believe that the Center has violated your privacy rights you have the right to file a complaint. You may complain by contacting:

Center’s Human Rights Officer
P.O. Box 2828
Lubbock, TX. 79408-2828
(806) 789-2546

or:

TDMHMR Consumer Services and Rights Protection/Ombudsman Office
P.O. Box 12668
Austin, TX. 78711
1-800-252-8154

or:

Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services
Hubert H. Humphrey Building,
200 Independence Avenue,
SW Washington, D.C. 20201

or:

Texas Attorney General’s Office
P.O. Box 12548
Austin, TX. 78711

You will not be retaliated against if you file a complaint.

Silver Star
Wynama Gould