This notice describes how medical information about the Department of Social Services (DSS) clients may be used and disclosed and how to get access to this information.
Reasons for Collecting Information
The Haywood County Department of Social Services (DSS) provides many types of services. DSS staff must collect information about clients to provide these services. DSS knows the information that we collect about clients and their health is private. DSS is required to protect this information by Federal and State law. We call this information PHI (Protected Health Information).
Notice of Privacy Practices
DSS is required to give clients a notice of our privacy practices for the information we collect and keep about them. DSS is required to follow the terms of the notice currently in effect. We may change the terms of this notice in the future. We reserve the right to make changes and to make the new notice effective for all health care information that we maintain.
If we make changes to the notice, we will post copies of the new notice at DSS and have copies of the new notice available to you upon request. Clients may obtain a copy of the current notice at any time at DSS.
DSS May Use and Disclose Information without Client Authorization for the Following Reasons:
- For Treatment: DSS may use or disclose information with health care providers who are involved in a client’s health care. For example, information may be shared to create or carry out a plan for your treatment.
- For Payment: DSS may use or disclose information to get payment or to pay for the health care services a client receives. For example, DSS may use PHI to review the quality of services received.
- For Health Care Operations: DSS may use or disclose information in order to manage its programs and activities. For example, DSS may use PHI to review the quality of services a client receives.
- For Appointments and Other Health Information: DSS may send clients reminders for medical care or checkups. DSS may send clients information about health services that may be of interest to them.
- For Public Health Activities: DSS may disclose health information to the appropriate agencies for public health activities for disease control and prevention, problems with medical products or medications, and in some cases victims of abuse, neglect or domestic violence as required by law.
- For Health Oversight Activities: DSS may use or disclose information to inspect or investigate health care providers.
- As Required by Law and For Law Enforcement: DSS will use and disclose information when required or permitted by federal or state law or by a court order.
- To Avoid Harm: DSS may disclose PHI to law enforcement in order to avoid a serious threat to the health and safety of a person or to the public.
- For Research: DSS uses information for studies and to develop reports. These reports do not identify specific people.
- Disclosures to Family Members or Others: DSS may disclose information to family members or other persons who are involved in a client’s medical care. The client has the right to object to the sharing of this information.
Other Uses and Disclosures Require Written Authorization
- For Other Situations: DSS will not use or disclose health care information for any reason other than those described above without authorization from a client of their personal representative. The client may cancel this authorization any time in writing. DSS cannot take back any uses or disclosures already made with their authorization.
- Other Laws Protect PHI. Many DSS programs have other laws for the use and disclosure of information about clients. For example, the client would be required to give written authorization to DSS to share information relating to such things as mental health or chemical dependency treatment records.
Your Rights Regarding Your Protected Health Information
- Right to Receive a Copy of the Privacy Notice: The client has a right to a paper copy of the privacy notice at any time.
- Right to Choose Confidential Communications: The client has a right to request that DSS communicate with he or she in a certain way or at a certain location. For example, a client may ask that DSS call or send information at work instead of at home. This request must be made in writing.
- Right to Inspect and Copy: In most cases, the client has the right to look at or get copies of his or her records. This request must be in writing. The client may be charged a fee for the cost of copying records.
- Right to Request Amendment: The client may ask to change or add missing information to records if he or she feels the information we have is incorrect or incomplete. This request must be made in writing and state the reason for the request. We may deny a client’s request if the information was not created by this agency or if we believe the information we have is accurate.
- Right to an Accounting of Disclosures: The client has the right to request in writing and receive a written list of certain disclosures of protected health information made after April 14, 2003. Exceptions from this list include those disclosures regarding treatment, payment, or other health care operations allowed by certain laws, or disclosures authorized by or made to the client or an authorized representative.
- Right to Request Limits on Uses or Disclosures of PHI: The client has a right to ask that DSS limit how his or her information is used or disclosed. This request must be made in writing and must include the information a client wants to limit and to whom the limits should apply. DSS is not required to agree to the restriction. The client may request in writing at any time that the restrictions be terminated.
- Right to File a Complaint: A client has the right to file a complaint if you do not agree with how DSS has used or disclosed information about you. Complaints should be made in writing.
A client may contact any of the following people listed if he or she wants to file a complaint or report a problem with how DSS has used or disclosed information about them. The client’s benefits will not be affected by any complaints made. DSS cannot retaliate against a client for filing a complaint, cooperating in an investigation, or refusing to agree to something that he or she believes to be unlawful.
Haywood County Department of Social Services
DSS Privacy Officer
486 E Marshall Street
Waynesville, NC 28786
A client may also file a complaint with the Federal government by contacting the office for Civil Rights Assistance:
Office for Civil Rights
Medical Privacy, Complaint Division
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue SW
HHH Building, Room 509H
Washington, DC 20201
Email Health and Human Services
Equal Opportunity Employer & Provider
Haywood County Health and Human Services Agency is an equal opportunity employer and provider.