Patient Rights and Privacy
Skagit Valley Hospital’s patient rights and responsibilities policies reflect on the importance of respect and privacy, confidentiality, information and consent for care for each and every patient.
All patients have the right to receive care in a safe setting where you are informed about your health, treatment and recovery. Each patient has the right to personal privacy and rights to complete information about your hospital bill.
Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Patient
You have the right to:
- Receive compassionate, respectful care.
- Be well informed about your illness or injury, possible treatments and the likely outcome of these treatments. Your physician has a responsibility to discuss this information with your or your chosen representative.
- Have a family member (or representative of your choice) and your physician notified promptly of your admission to the hospital.
- Participate in the development and implementation of your plan of care.
- Know the name and role of each person who assists in your care.
- Accept or refuse any treatment, as permitted by law. If you refuse a recommended treatment, you have the right to receive all other needed and available care.
- Formulate advance directives, and have the hospital staff and others who provide care in the hospital comply with these directives.
- Receive care in a safe setting, free from abuse or harassment.
- Be shown consideration for your personal privacy. The hospital, your physician and others caring for you will protect your privacy as much as possible.
- Review your medical records and have the information explained to you.
- Know that your medical records will remain confidential and will be released only with your written permission or if the law specifically requires or permits reporting. When we release records to other (such as insurance companies), we remind them that the records are to be kept confidential.
- Know if the hospital has outside relationships that my influence your treatment and care. Such relationship may be with educational institutions, healthcare providers or insurers.
- Choose whether to participate in research efforts, which may affect your care. If you choose not to participate, you will receive the most effective care the hospital otherwise provides.
- Be told of reasonable alternatives for your care when acute inpatient hospital care is no longer appropriate.
- Be informed about hospital rules that affect you and your treatment.
- Receive an explanation of your bill regardless of the source of payment and to receive information or be advised of the availability of any sources of financial assistance.
- Participate in the discussion of ethical issues that may arise during your treatment.
- Know about hospital resources (such as care team-patient conferences) that can answer your questions and help you solve problems regarding your illness, treatment choice or hospital stay.
- Be free from any form of restraints whether physical or pharmaceutical, that is not medically indicated.
- Have an interpreter if you are not comfortable communicating in English or if you are hearing-impaired.
- Access protective and advocacy services.
- Follow your spiritual and religious beliefs and customs as much as possible.
- Have a person of the same sex with you during certain exams and treatments.
- Refuse to see or talk with anyone who is not directly involved in your care.
- Appropriate assessment and management of pain.
- Voice any concerns to caregivers or nursing management. In most cases this communication will resolve concerns quickly and effectively.
You have the responsibility to:
- Provide honest information about your health. This includes past illnesses, hospital stays and use of medications.
- Ask questions when you do not understand information or instructions.
- Tell your physician if you believe you cannot follow through with your treatment.
- Be considerate, along with your visitors, toward care providers, other staff members and other patients.
- Provide insurance information and when necessary, make arrangements for paying your bills.
- Recognize the effect that your lifestyle has on your health. Your daily choices do affect your long-term health.
- Express any dissatisfaction with care or services rendered so that improvements or explanations can be made.
If you do have a grievance or complaint, please call our confidential Patient Relations phone line 360-428-8248 or hospital operator 360-424-4111 and ask to speak with the Nursing Supervisor. You may also file a complaint or grievance regarding quality of care issues with the Department of Health at 1-800-633-6828.
NOTICE OF HEALTH INFORMATION PRACTICES
SKAGIT REGIONAL HEALTH/ PUBLIC HOSPITAL DISTRICT NO. 1, SKAGIT COUNTY, WASHINGTON
Effective Date: 03/26/2012
THIS NOTICE DESCRIBES HOW HEALTH 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 this notice, please contact our Privacy Officer at (360) 814-8326.
WHO WILL FOLLOW THIS NOTICE
This notice describes the health information privacy practices of health facilities operated by Public Hospital District No. 1, Skagit County, Washington, doing business as Skagit Regional Health (“SRH”) in Mount Vernon, Washington. Facilities operated by SRH include:
- Skagit Valley Hospital in Mount Vernon, Washington
- Skagit Regional Clinics, Mount Vernon, Sedro-Woolley, Stanwood, Camano Island and Anacortes, Washington
- Skagit Valley Kidney Center, Mount Vernon, Washington
- Skagit Valley Hospital Regional Cancer Care Center, Mount Vernon and Smokey Point, Washington
This notice covers the information practices of the facilities identified above and that of:
- Any health care professional authorized to enter information into your medical chart.
- Any member of a volunteer group we allow to help you while you are in an SRH facility.
- All employees, staff and other SRH personnel.
- Other practitioners that have agreed to follow this notice as a “joint notice” of privacy practices as described below
JOINT NOTICE OF PRIVACY PRACTICES
A number of independent practitioners have agreed with SRH to follow this notice as a joint privacy practices notice related to care delivered at SRH facilities, the Medical Staff of Skagit Regional Health and certain health care joint ventures in which SRH participates that provide services at SRH facilities. The non-SRH entities and practitioners that have agreed to follow this notice may access your health information where there is a legitimate need to do so for treatment, payment and health care operations purposes related to the joint care setting at SRH facilities. To obtain a list of the independent practitioners who have agreed to follow and abide by this notice, you may contact in writing the Medical Staff office of SRH at P.O. Box 1376, Mount Vernon, WA 98273-1376. Note that it is possible that these independent practitioners will likely have separate privacy practices for care delivered at non-SRH facilities (e.g. a physician’s office). You may request information from a non-SRH practitioner about any separate privacy practices followed by the practitioner at non-SRH offices or facilities.
OUR PLEDGE REGARDING MEDICAL INFORMATION
We understand that health information about you and your health is personal. We are committed to protecting health information about you. We create a record of the care and services you receive at SRH facilities. We need this record to provide you with quality care and to comply with certain legal requirements. This notice applies to all of the records of your care generated by SRH facilities, whether made by SRH personnel or your personal doctor or other practitioners involved in your care. Your personal doctor may have different policies or notices regarding the doctor’s use and disclosure of your health information created in the doctor’s office or clinic.
HOW WE MAY USE AND DISCLOSE MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU
The following categories describe different ways that we use and disclose health information. We also include some examples of the specific types or uses or disclosures of your health information that might take place.
We may disclose health information about you to doctors, nurses, technicians, health care students, or others who are involved in your care. For example, a doctor treating you for a broken leg may need to know if you have diabetes because diabetes may slow the healing process. In addition, the doctor may need to tell the dietitian if you have diabetes so that we can arrange for appropriate meals. Also, consistent with state and federal privacy laws, we may disclose health information about you to people outside SRH facilities who may be involved in your medical care, such as a physician who will use information as part of your care.
We may use and disclose health information about you so that the treatment and services you receive at SRH facilities may be billed to and payment may be collected from you, an insurance company or a third party. Your health plan and/or SRH may be required to obtain your permission under State law so that your health information may be used for this purpose. Information provided to health plans, for example, may include your diagnosis, procedures performed, or recommended care. 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
These uses and disclosures are necessary to run SRH facilities and make sure that all of our patients receive quality care. For example, we may use health information to review our treatment and services and to evaluate the performance and training of our staff or the performance of the members of the medical staff of Skagit Valley Hospital. We may also combine health information about many SRH patients to decide what additional services SRH facilities should offer, what services are not needed, and whether certain new treatments are effective.
We may use and disclose health information to contact you as a reminder that you have an appointment for treatment or medical care at an SRH facility. With your prior consent, we may leave a message on your voice mail.
We may use and disclose health information 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 health information to tell you about health-related benefits, services, or medical education classes that may be of interest to you.
We may use certain information (name, address, telephone number, dates of service, age and gender) to contact you in the future to raise money for the fundraising entities that support the Skagit Valley Hospital Foundation. The money raised will be used to expand and improve the services and programs we provide the community.
We may include certain limited information about you in the facility directory while you are an inpatient at Skagit Valley Hospital. This information may include your name, location in the facility, your general condition (e.g., fair, stable, etc.); and, with your permission, your religious affiliation. This directory information, except for your religious affiliation, may also be released to people who ask for you by name, unless you have instructed us not to make this disclosure. Also, with your permission, we may tell members of the clergy your religious affiliation.
Individuals Involved in Your Care
Unless you object, we may release health information about you to a friend or family member who is involved in your medical care. In addition, we may disclose health information about you to an entity assisting in a disaster relief effort so that your family can be notified about your condition, status and location.
Others Who Help Us With our Operations
We may disclose certain information about you to or our business associates, or other entities with whom we contract for services. Examples include consultants, accountants, lawyers, medical transcriptionists and third-party billing companies. We require our business associates to protect the confidentiality of your health information.
Under certain circumstances, we may use and disclose health information about you for research purposes. All research projects, however, are subject to a special approval process. We will 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 at SRH facilities
As Required by Law
We will disclose health information 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 health information 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.
If you are member of the armed forces, we may release health information about you as required by law.
We may release health information about you for worker’s compensation or similar programs.
Public Health Risks (Health and Safety to you and/or others)
We may use and disclose health information about you to agencies when necessary to prevent a serious threat to your health and safety or the health and safety of the public or another person. These activities generally include the following:
- To prevent or control disease, injury or disability;
- To report births and deaths;
- To report adult/child abuse or neglect;
- To report reactions to medications or programs with procedures;
- 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; and
- To notify the appropriate government authority if we believe a patient has been the victim of abuse, neglect or domestic violence. We will only make this disclosure when required or authorized by law.
Health Oversight Activities
We may disclose health information to a health oversight agency for activities authorized by law. These oversight activities include, for example, audits, investigations, inspections, and licensure.
Lawsuits and Disputes
If you are involved in a lawsuit or a dispute, we may disclose health information about you in response to a court or administrative order. We may also disclose health information about you in certain cases in response to a subpoena, discovery request, or other lawful process.
- 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 an SRH facility; 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 also release health information about patients of SRH facilities to coroners, medical examiners and, consistent with Washington law, funeral directors as necessary to carry out their duties.
National Security and Intelligence Activities and Protective Services for the President and Others
We may release health information about you to authorized federal officials for intelligence, counterintelligence, and other national security activities authorized by law.
If you are an inmate of a correctional institution or under the custody of a law enforcement official, we may release health information about you to an official of the correctional institution or the law enforcement agency.
YOUR RIGHTS REGARDING MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU
You have the following rights regarding health information we maintain about you:
Right to Inspect and Copy
You have the right to request to inspect and copy certain health information maintained by us. Usually, this includes medical and billing records, but does not include psychotherapy notes.
To inspect and copy health information that may be used to make decisions about you, contact the Health Information Management Department at (360) 814-2160. If you request a copy of the information, we may charge a fee for the costs of copying, mailing or other supplies associated with your request.
We may deny your request to inspect and copy in certain very limited circumstances. If you are denied access to health information, in certain circumstances, you may request that the denial be reviewed. We will comply with the outcome of the review.
Right to Amend
If you feel that health information we have about you is incorrect or incomplete, you have the right to request that we amend the information. You have the right to request an amendment for as long as the information is kept by or for SRH.
To request an amendment, your request must be made in writing and submitted to the Director of Health Information Management at P.O. Box 1376, Mount Vernon, WA 98273-1376. In addition, you must provide a reason that supports your request.
We may deny your request for an amendment if it is not in writing or does not include a reason to support the request. You may write a statement of disagreement if your request is denied. You may request that this statement of disagreement be kept in your medical record, and included in any release of your records related to the subject of the requested amendment.
Right to an Accounting of Disclosures
You have the right to request an “accounting of disclosures.” This is a record of certain disclosures we made of health information about you in accordance with law.
To request this accounting of disclosures, you must submit your request in writing to the Director of Health Information Management at P.O. Box 1376, Mount Vernon, WA 98273-1376. The first list you request within a 12 month period will be free. For additional lists, we may charge you for the costs of providing the list. We will notify you of the cost involved.
Right to Request Restrictions
You have the right to request a restriction on the health information we use or disclose about you . We are not required to agree to your request. If we do agree, we will comply with your request unless the information is needed to provide you emergency treatment.
To request restrictions, you must make your request in writing to the Director of the Health Information Management Department at P.O. Box 1376, Mount Vernon, WA 98273-1376. In your request, you must tell us (1) what information you want to limit; (2) whether you want to limit our use, disclosure or both; and (3) to whom you want the limits to apply, for example, disclosures to your spouse.
Right to Request Confidential Communications
You have the right to request that we communicate with you about medical matters in a certain way or at a certain location. For example, you can ask that we only contact you at work or by mail.
To request confidential communications, you must make your request in writing to the Director of Health Information Management at P.O. Box 1376, Mount Vernon, WA 98273-1376. We will not ask you the reason for your request. We will make every effort to accommodate all reasonable requests. Your request must specify how or where you wish to be contacted.
Right to a Paper Copy of This Notice
You have the right to a paper copy of this privacy notice. You may ask us to give you a copy of this privacy notice at any time by requesting a copy from any SRH personnel
Reporting Security Breaches
SRH and their business associates are required to notify individuals when security breaches of protected health information occur.
CHANGES TO THIS NOTICE
We reserve the right to change this notice. We reserve the right to make the revised or changed notice effective for health information we already have about you as well as any information we receive in the future. We will post a copy of the current notice in our facilities.
If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you may contact or submit your complaint in writing to the Director of the Health Information Management Department at P.O. Box 1376, Mount Vernon, WA 98273-1376. If we cannot resolve your concern, you also have the right to file a written complaint with the Office of Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2201 Sixth Avenue – M/S: RX-11, Seattle, WA 98121-1831.
The quality of your care will not be jeopardized nor will you be penalized for filing a complaint.
OTHER USES OF MEDICAL INFORMATION
Other uses and disclosures of health information not covered by this notice or the laws that apply to us will be made only with your written permission.