What kind of protected health information do we collect, and how do we obtain it?

As a behavioral health care provider, Apalachee must collect confidential information from persons served for treatment, payment, and health care operations. In addition to a client’s name, address, phone number, social security number, date of birth, and other identifying or general profile information, medical information must be obtained which may include present complaints, past illnesses, prior treatment and hospitalization, medications, and other matters relating to a person’s individual and family health. While Apalachee obtains most of this information from the person served, with a client’s specific written authorization we will request relevant medical information from previous health care providers or other sources identified by the client that may be needed for treatment and health care operations.

How do we use protected information?

We use personal, protected information for transactions and functions necessary to implement our treatment services (e.g., assessment, planning, coordinating, monitoring, advocacy, referral and linking, care, and therapy), obtain payment for services (e.g., from insurance companies), as applicable, and to fulfill healthcare operations requirements (e.g., compliance audits). This information is used by or only disclosed to authorized persons with a need to know who are involved in necessary treatment, reimbursement, or related administrative and support operations.

What kind of protected information do we release?

Release of protected, confidential health information to persons outside of the Center will require the prior, written authorization from the person being served, which can be revoked upon request. Only in extreme circumstances, such as a life-threatening emergency or a court order by a judge, or as otherwise required by law, would information be released without an authorization, but even in these cases, the release would be limited to the minimum amount of information necessary to fulfill the requirement. In addition, State of Florida regulations currently require (1) information regarding abuse of a child, disabled adult, or aged person be reported to the State Abuse Registry; (2) physicians to report the diagnosis of certain communicable diseases to the County Health Department; and (3) that certain identifying, demographic, and clinical information pertaining to persons receiving State-supported services be reported to the Department of Children & Families.

How do we protect confidential information?

We maintain physical, electronic, and procedural safeguards to protect confidential information. The type and the amount of information we share is limited to that which is necessary or required by law. We restrict access to protected information to only those employees or authorized persons with a need to know. The confidentiality of protected health information is safeguarded and secured in accordance with all applicable State and/or Federal regulations.

How can I get more information about my rights with respect to uses and disclosures of confidential information?

Additional information is provided to persons served in our “Rights & Responsibilities of Persons Served” handout/poster and “Acknowledgment of Orientation” process/handouts. This information includes the right to request restrictions on certain uses and disclosures, the right to inspect and receive copies of information, the right to augment or clarify information contained in our records, the right to receive an accounting of disclosures, and the right to file a complaint if you believe your rights have been violated (there will be no retaliation against you for any complaint). Please contact your case manager for more information or assistance (or Center Administration/Privacy Officer, 850-523-3200). You may also file a formal complaint with the U.S. Dept of HHS: Office of Civil Rights, 200 Independence Ave, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20201. (877)696-6775 (toll free).