UHC Patient Guides

Patient Rights

Access to Care

Individuals shall be accorded impartial access to treatment or accommodations that are available and medically indicated regardless of race, color, creed, sex, national origin, religion or source of payment. Appropriate care will be provided without regard to whether or not patients have completed advance directives.

Information on the extent to which the hospital is able, unable or unwilling to honor wishes is given upon admission if the patient has an advance directive.

Respect and Dignity

Patients have a right to considerate, respectful care under all circumstances with recognition of the patient’s personal dignity. Such respect includes consideration of the patient’s religious, social, cultural and personal values, beliefs and preferences. The hospital allows patients to keep and use personal clothing and possessions unless it infringes on others rights, is medically or therapeutically contraindicated.

Privacy and Confidentiality

Patients shall be given every consideration of privacy both in their treatment and care and in the communication of their medical and financial information. This includes reasonable physical privacy during examinations, interviews and care, and access to information only for those directly involved in the patient’s care. The environment will support the positive self image of patients including sufficient storage space to meet their personal needs.

Safety and Security

Patients have the right to protection from mental, physical, sexual and verbal abuse and exploitation from staff, students, volunteers, other patients, visitors or family members. The hospital has a safe available to secure personal items. UHC is not responsible for personal items unless specifically given to a UHC staff member to be locked in the hospital safe. Patients/families are encouraged to have personal belongings taken home.

Identity

Patients have the right to know the identity and professional status of individuals providing services to know which physician or practitioner is primarily responsible for their care.

Information and Communications

Telephone & Mail Service

Patients have access to telephone and mail services throughout their stay.

Treatment Information

Patients have a right to receive from their attending physician complete and current information concerning diagnosis, treatment, and current prognosis in terms the patient can reasonably be expected to understand. This includes the right to an interpreter or other appropriate means of communication when language or physical handicap would hinder communication. This also includes the right to review your medical record with your physician and to have the information explained, except when restricted by law. Patients, and when appropriate their families, are informed about the outcomes of care, treatment and services, including unanticipated outcomes. Patients have the responsibility to ask questions or acknowledge when he/she does not understand the treatment course or care decision.

Organ & Tissue Donation Patients have the right to information, education and participation in organ and tissue donation. A list of patient advocacy groups is available on request.

Consent and Participation in Care

Patients have a right to reasonable informed participation in decisions involving their care, including decisions regarding the initiation and the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment. This participation should be based on a clear, concise explanation of the patient’s condition, the risks and benefits of the treatment, and the alternatives to treatment. Procedures should only be performed with the voluntary and competent consent of the patient or the patient’s legally designated representative. If the patient is not capable of making such decisions their health care providers will honor their wishes as expressed in any advanced directive such as the living will or medical power of attorney to the extent permitted by law and hospital policy. UHC involves the patient’s family in care, treatment and service decisions to the extent permitted by the patient or legal representative.

Management of Pain

Patients have a right to adequate pain management, including the right to information about pain relief options from their physicians and nurses. The patient has a right to participate with their physician in the process of measuring their pain.

Refusal of Treatment

Patients have a right to refuse care, treatment, and services within the limitations of the law, without jeopardizing other care and services provided by UHC. Patients are responsible for their actions and condition when exercising such rights. When such refusal compromises professional standards of care the physician or practitioner, upon reasonable notice, may terminate the relationship. When the patient is not legally responsible, their healthcare providers will honor their wishes as expressed in an advance directive and with the surrogate decision maker as allowed by law to refuse care, treatment and services on the patient’s behalf.

Consultation

Patients have the right to request the consultation of another physician when desired.

Pastoral and other spiritual services at UHC accommodate the right to pastoral and other spiritual services for patients.

Research

Patients have a right to be informed of any human experimentation, research or educational project involving their care and treatment. The patient may refuse to participate in any of these activities without compromise to their ongoing care needs.

Continuity and Transfer

Patients have the right to be informed of the need for and the alternatives to transfer to any other facility, including the right to request a transfer to another facility. Patients also should expect to be informed by their physician or other practitioners of any continuing healthcare requirements following discharge from the hospital.

Charges

Regardless of the source of payment, patients have a right to request and receive an itemized explanation of the bill for services rendered in the hospital. Patients also have a responsibility for prompt attention to their hospital bill or other hospital related financial commitments.

Hospital Rules and Regulations

Patients and their visitors have the right to be informed of rules related to their care and conduct, and they have an obligation to abide by such rules that are in place to support quality care for patients and a safe environment for all individuals in the hospital.

Provision of Information

Patients have the responsibility to provide, to the best of their knowledge, accurate and complete information regarding present symptoms, past illnesses, medications and other matters related to their care. The patient is also expected to communicate any changes in his/her condition to the responsible practitioner including risks, information on service needs and expectations. You or your family should report to your nurse any symptoms or concerns about your care. The hospital encourages the patient and/or family to seek assistance if believed the patient condition is changing or worsens. A rapid response team is available as a resource for you and your nurse to assist in assessing symptoms and early interventions to help avoid life threatening events. Patients have a right to access, request amendment to and receive an accounting of disclosures regarding his/her own health information as permitted under applicable law including advance directives.

Compliance with Instructions

Patients are responsible for following the treatment plan recommended by the practitioner directing their care, including instructions of nurses and allied health personnel as they carry out the practitioner’s instructions and enforce applicable hospital policies.

Respect

Patients and their visitors are responsible for being considerate of the rights of other patients and hospital associates, including the control of noise, smoking and number of visitors. Patients and hospital staff and licensed independent practitioners have the responsibility to support mutual consideration and respect by maintaining civil language and conduct in interactions with one another.

Visitation

Patients generally have the right to receive or restrict visitors, whether a spouse, another family member, a domestic partner (including same-sex domestic partner), a friend, or clergy member. This right is subject to clinically or administratively necessary limitations that may be reasonably placed on such rights. UHC will not restrict visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or disability. UHC wants all visitors to enjoy full and equal visitation privileges consistent with patient preferences and legitimate regulation.

Primary supporting visitors will generally be able to visit anytime duirng the patient’s hospital stay based upon the patient’s wishes or, if applicable, the direction of the patient’s support person. These primary supporting visitors are those who are determined by our staff to be needed and who are particularly willing and encouraged to be involved in the patient’s care as well as to provide assistance and comfort to the patient. They are encouraged to notify staff when they have concerns about the patient’s condition or any changes in the patient’s condition. They may be informed that a Rapid Response Team is available as an additional resource to assist in assessing for significant changes in symptoms and to provide early intervention to help avoid life-threatening events. Examples of how such a primary supporting visitor can benefit the patient include calming a confused patient or notifying staff when a patient is attempting to disrupt a treatment or therapy.

When Problems Arise

Patients have a right to be informed of the mechanisms available for communicating, becoming involved in and resolving concerns, problems and suggestions related to their care. Patients have a right to pursue the resolution of problems without reprisal or an adverse affect on their care.

Asking Questions

Patients are responsible for asking questions when they do not understand what they have been told about their care or what they are expected to do. This also includes expressing concern over the ability to follow the plan of care.

Accepting Consequences

The patient and family are responsible for the outcomes if they do not follow the care, service or treatment plan.

Ethical Decisions and Issues

In the course of your treatment you and your family may be faced with making important treatment choices. We respect your right to make such decisions based on the available medical information as well as on your personal beliefs and values. In order to make informed and appropriate decisions we suggest you consider these issues:

  • Do you have the information you need to make the decision?
  • Have you designated someone to make decisions about your care in case you are unable to do so (advanced directives)?
  • Have you expressed to your physician and family your wishes about prolonging care should you become terminally ill?
  • Do you need further clarification of the issues involved or help in thinking through your decision?

Assistance is Available

If you have not completed an advanced directive (a Living Will or Medical Power of Attorney) and wish to do so, please ask your nurse for assistance. The hospital will honor advance directives, in accordance with law and regulations and the hospital’s capabilities.

A hospital chaplain is available to discuss the religious and ethical issues of your decision. The hospital chaplain will also contact your own minister, priest or religious representative at your request.

UHC’s Ethics Committee is also available to assist you, your family, and your physicians in thinking through these issues. The Ethics Committee is comprised of various healthcare professionals such as physicians, nurses, chaplains, social workers, and psychologists and is consulted in those situations involving particularly difficult ethical decisions. To involve the Ethics Committee, discuss your desire with your physician or nurse.

Resolving Problems

The staff at UHC recognizes that problems may arise in the course of your treatment. It is our goal to resolve problems as quickly and satisfactorily as possible. Also, we invite both your positive and negative feedback as it assists us in improving the care we provide. The patient can freely voice, report problems and complaints, and recommend changes without coercion, discrimination, reprisal, unreasonable interruption of care, treatment, or services. If you have a problem, suggestion or need to discuss your care with someone you may:

  • Ask to speak to the manager of the department involved.
  • If a problem or complaint is not resolved to your satisfaction by the staff on hand you may file a patient grievance by calling the Risk Manager at extension 1604 and you are entitled to receive a written response to that grievance.
  • Call the hospital switchboard operator after normal hours and on weekends.
  • File a complaint with West Virginia Office of Health Facilities Licensure and Certification, 408 Leon Sullivan Way, Charleston, WV 25301, (304) 558-0050; KEPRO, 5201 W. Kennedy Blvd, Suite 900, Tampa, FL 33609 (800) 455-8708; Office of Quality and Patient Safety, The Joint Commission, One Renaissance Boulevard, Oakbrook, IL 60181, (800) 994-6610.

For information on how to contact the above agencies, call the Risk Manager at extension 1604.

Patient Responsibilities

As an active participant in your care, you also carry responsibilities. The following is a list of your patient responsibilities.

  • Providing accurate and complete information about present complaints, past illnesses, hospitalizations, medications (including over-the-counter), and other matters relating to your health.
  • Reporting perceived risks in your care and unexpected changes in your condition.
  • Helping care providers improve their understanding of your environment by providing feedback about service needs and expectations.
  • You and your family are responsible for following the care, service, or treatment plan developed for you by your care providers.
  • You should express any concerns you may have about your ability to follow and comply with the proposed course of treatment. Every effort is made to adapt the plan to your specific needs and limitations.
  • When such adaptations to the treatment plan are not recommended, you are responsible for understanding the consequences of the treatment alternatives and not following the proposed course. Furthermore, you are responsible for outcomes if you do not follow the care, service, or treatment plan.
  • You and your family are responsible for following the hospital’s rules and regulations concerning patient care. You are also asked to be considerate of the hospital’s personnel and property, help control noise and disturbances, follow smoking policies and respect others’ property.

To provide a safe environment during your hospital stay, please be an active participant in your care.

Patient Safety

Patient Identification

Safety is a primary concern for all our patients. This concern begins on admission with a series of questions that are asked of you or your family. It is important for these questions to be answered as accurately as possible. Some of these questions include your current health status, past health history, ability to care for yourself and any medications you may be taking.

As part of this process, you will be issued one or more armbands to wear during your hospital stay. Please keep these bands on at all times, as they identify who you are, indicate to the nursing staff any special precautions, the presence of allergies, and what to do if an emergency arises with your health. You should be asked to state your name and birth date by various hospital departments for verification purposes.

More on Patient Safety

Hospitalization can be frightening and overwhelming because you as a patient do not feel in control of your situation. We encourage you to gain some control of the situation by:

  • Becoming an active participant in your care
  • Making sure you understand the tests that are to be completed and why they have been ordered
  • Keeping a list of medications you are taking and any allergies you may have
  • Discussing any changes of your medications or treatments with your care providers
  • You or your family should report to your nurse any symptoms or concerns about your care. The hospital encourages the patient and/or family to seek assistance if believed the patient’s condition is changing or worsening. A Rapid Response Team is available as a resource for you and your nurse to assist in assessing symptoms and early interventions to help avoid life-threatening events.

Safety Measures Used For Surgical Patients

For your safety, you will immediately receive a permanent identification band upon entry to United Hospital Center. This band will be worn throughout your hospital stay and will identify you using specific information, including your name and birth-date. Healthcare personnel will identify you prior to any treatment or procedure by asking you to state your name and date of birth and verify it by matching the information in the id band or other documents. The hospital will actively involve you and as needed, your family in the identification and matching process.

Also for your safety the staff will ask you the same question many times. They will ask:

  • Who you are
  • What kind of surgery you are having
  • What part of the body will be operated on
  • They will also double-check the records from your doctor’s office

A healthcare provider will mark the spot on your body where the operation will occur. Make sure they mark only the correct part and nowhere else. This helps avoid mistakes. Prior to surgery a “time out” is called. This means that all of the people in the operating room agree that they are doing the right surgery, on the right part of the body and on the right person.

Every effort is made to prevent surgical infections. While the risk of developing an infection after your surgery is small, we feel it is important to tell you some of the steps United Hospital Center takes to prevent these. Generally, patients are asked to take a shower with s special soap that kills germs. Skin preparation takes place just prior to your surgery. Hair around the surgical site will be removed with clippers. The nurse in the operating room also washes the area to be operated on with a special solution that kills germs and prevents germs from growing back for up to six hours. Your operation site will be surrounded with sterile linens that will not allow germs near the area. The doctors and nurses will be wearing special clothing such as gowns, masks, show covers, hair covers, and gloves to keep you from getting their germs. Every instrument used in your surgery has been specially prepared to be free of germs. Antibiotics are not needed for all surgical procedures but your doctor may order these at the beginning of surgery to prevent germs from growing in the wound after surgery. The best way to treat an infection is prevention.

Infection Control

Infection control at UHC has the goal of preventing infectious disease transmission.

This is accomplished by:

Isolating Patients – There are three types of isolation; droplet, airborne, and contact. Healthcare workers utilize personal protective equipment (like masks, gowns and goggles) as a barrier between them and the infectious patient. A sign will be placed on your hospital room door so staff and visitors know which protective equipment to use. This decreases the potential exposure and transmission risk.

Hand Washing – Hand washing is the #1 prevention method to stop infectious disease transmission. Healthcare providers come into contact with lots of bacteria and viruses. So before they treat you, we encourage you to ask them if they’ve cleaned their hands. Healthcare providers should wear clean gloves when they perform tasks such as taking throat cultures, taking blood, and touching wounds or body fluids. It is OK to ask them if they should wear gloves. Hand washing is part of our daily living, and in healthcare it is very important that we be extremely diligent in this process. We appreciate your assistance.

Education

If you are identified to have Multi Drug Resistant Bacteria, education will be provided to you by a health care provider.

Restraints

As a Medicare provider, UHC is required to follow federal rules that place strict limits on the use of measures that restrict a patient’s freedom of movement. This includes any type of restraint unless ordered by a physician to protect a patient from hurting himself or others. Restraints may include medications as well as wrist, ankle, vest restraint and even include lower bed rails if they are being used to restrict a patient’s freedom of movement.

Many patients in hospitals are at a high risk for falls. Hospitals in the past might have restrained these patients in order to prevent falling, broken bones or injury. However, due to these regulations, these patients will probably not be restrained now. Lower bed rails will not be up.

We want you to be aware that UHC cannot provide constant oversight of every patient. We welcome and encourage patient’s families to participate in the care and support of patients to help us prevent falls and other accidents. If a patient has any habits that make him prone to confusion or wandering, it is important that the patient’s nursing staff be informed. A family member is welcome to stay with a loved one. We know that falls and accidents occasionally happen in the hospital but we believe that if family, the patient, and the physician and staff at the hospital work together, we can try to avoid these unfortunate accidents.

Safe Medication Use

As a patient or family member, you are part of the health care team, and you share the responsibility for safe medication use.

Medications can cure disease and alleviate symptoms. They can relieve pain. They make it possible for people with long-term illness to lead healthier lives.

Medications are also powerful chemicals. It is essential that these be properly used. This means that every patient must receive medication, in the right amount, every time.

Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist work together to select the medication that’s best for you – prescribed the correct dosage, dispense the product correctly and label it clearly. It’s also their job to know about your medications and to answer questions, in addition, barcoding of the medication and your armband assures added safety. Once you’ve started taking the medication, they should make sure it is working and that you are not having any serious side effects.

As much as you trust your care provider’s knowledge and judgment, you owe it to yourself and your family to learn as much as you can about medication use.

In The Hospital

While you are hospitalized, you may not be feeling strong enough to take an active role in medication use. Often it’s family members who provide the comfort and support needed to promote your return to good health. In either case, you rely on the hospital staff to ensure that medications are administered correctly and on time.

UHC is deeply aware of this responsibility to patients and families. We have systems of checks and balances in place to make sure that medications are used safely and effectively. Each medication order is checked and double checked by pharmacy and nursing staff, and medication records are maintained on computer systems.

Even during this critical time, however, you can do things to help ensure safe medication use. If you are too ill or tired, your family member or caregiver may be able to help. For example:

  • When you are admitted to the hospital, bring a list of all medication you are taking. If there isn’t time to make a list, bring the medications, including herbals and over-the-counter products. Keep them in their containers.
  • Before each procedure is done or medication is given, always make sure that the hospital personnel calls you by name, checks your birth date and checks your wristband(s).
  • Each time a new medicine is prescribed, make sure the doctor, nurse or pharmacist answers the questions under “Things you should know about your medications.” Ask to see what the medication looks like (for example, the shape and color of capsules and tablets, or the color of liquids and intravenous medications) and how often it is administered.
  • Always have your nurse open your medication in your presence
  • If a nurse comes to replace an IV solution or administer a medication, ask about the purpose of the medication. If a dose is not administered on time, ring the nursing station. If the nurse gives you a green tablet and you think it should be orange, question it.

In some cases, the answers are simple. For example, if you’ve been taking a brand name product at home and the hospital uses a generic product, the color or shape of the tablet may be different. In other cases, asking questions can prevent a medication error.

Things You Should Know About Your Medications

  1. What are the brand and generic names of the product?
  2. What is the purpose of the medication?
  3. What does the medication look like?
  4. What is the dosage?
  5. How should I take this Medication?
  6. How often should I take this medication? What should I do if I miss a dose?
  7. Does this medication have any side effects? What are they? What should I do if they occur?
  8. Does this medication interact with any other medications? With food? What are these interactions and what should I do if they occur?
  9. Does this medication replace anything else I am taking?
  10. How should I store this medication?

Teamwork Pays Off

Taking an active role in safe medication use has many advantages. Not only will it help prevent medication errors, it will also make you a more informed health care customer. Your doctor, nurse and pharmacist welcome your involvement. Teamwork has advantages for everyone.

Security & Fire Safety

Security

UHC has a full time Security Department designed to provide a reasonable and appropriate degree of security for its patients, visitors and staff. In the event that security services are needed, please dial “0” from any in-house telephone and request Security.

Fire Safety

United Hospital Center’s buildings are protected throughout with an automatic fire sprinkler system, an automatic fire alarm system, and smoke tight compartments, which are designed to protect occupants in place without the need to evacuate. In the event of a fire alarm, staff members will shut all patient room doors until the source of the alarm is identified and the alarm is cleared by facility personnel or the Bridgeport Fire Department. During the alarm, all patients and visitors should stay in their rooms and await instructions from the hospital staff. In the unlikely event that patients and visitors need to be evacuated, the staff will relocate occupants into another smoke compartment.

HIPAA – Patient Privacy

This notice describes how information about you may be used and disclosed and how you can get access to this information. Please review it carefully.

Understanding your health record/information

Each time you visit a hospital, physician or other health care provider, a record of your visit is made. Typically, this record contains your symptoms, examination, test results, diagnosis, treatment and a plan for future care or treatment. This information, often referred to as your health or medical record, serves as a:

  • Basis for planning your care and treatment
  • Means of communication among the many health care professionals who contribute to your care
  • Legal document describing the care you receive
  • Means by which you or a third-party payer can verify that services billed were actually provided
  • A tool in educating health professionals
  • A source of data for medical research
  • A source of information for public health officials charged with improving the health of the nation
  • A source of data for facility planning and marketing
  • A tool with which we can assess and continually work to improve the care we render and the outcomes we achieve

Understanding what is in our record and how your health information is used helps you to:

  • Ensure its accuracy
  • Better understand who, what, when, where and why others may access your health information
  • Make more informed decisions when authorizing disclosures to others

Who will follow this notice

This notice describes our hospital’s practices and that of:

  • Any health care professional authorized to enter information into your hospital chart
  • All departments and units of the hospital
  • Any member of a volunteer group we allow to help you when you are in the hospital
  • All employees, staff, contracted associates and other hospital personnel
  • Any staff of any current and future subsidiaries of UHC. Current subsidiaries include:
    • United Rehab Clarksburg or Bridgeport
    • United Diagnostics in Bridgeport at Medbrook
    • United Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab
    • UHC Endocrinology
    • UHC ENT and Audiology
    • UHC Gastroenterology
    • UHC General Surgery
    • UHC Oncology
    • UHC Orthopaedics
    • UHC Plastics and Reconstructive Surgery
    • UHC Rheumatology
    • UHC Thoracic Surgery
    • UHC Urology
    • UHC Wound Care
    • Family Practice Center

All these entities, sites and locations follow the terms of this notice. In addition, these entities, sites and locations may share medical information with each other for treatment, payment or hospital operations purposes described in this notice.

Our pledge regarding medical information

We understand that medical information about you and your health is personal. We are committed to protecting medical information about you. We are required to keep your health information confidential and to respect your rights regarding your health information by State and Federal law, most notably the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, also known as HIPAA. We create a record of care and services you receive at this hospital. 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 the hospital, whether made by hospital personnel or your personal doctor. Your personal doctor may have different policies or notices regarding the doctor’s use and disclosure of your medical information created in the doctor’s office or clinic.

This notice will tell you about the ways in which we may use and disclose medical information about you. We also describe your rights and certain obligations we have regarding the use and disclosure of medical information.

We are required by law to:

  • Make sure that medical information that identifies you is kept private;
  • Give you this notice of our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to medical information about you; and
  • Follow the terms of this notice that are currently in effect.

We reserve the right to change our practices and to make the new provisions effective for all protected health information we maintain. Should our information practices change, you will receive a revised notice.

We will not use or disclose your health information without your authorization, except as described in this notice.

How we may use and disclose medical information

The following categories describe different ways that we use and disclose medical information. For each category of uses or disclosures we will explain what we mean and try to give some examples. Not every use or disclosure in a category will be listed. However, all of the ways we are permitted to use and disclose information will fall within one of the categories.

For Treatment: We may use medical information about you to provide you with medical treatment or services. We may disclose medical information about you to doctors, nurses, technicians, medical students, contracted associates or other hospital personnel who are involved in taking care of you at the hospital. 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 dietician if you have diabetes so that we can arrange for appropriate meals. Different departments of the hospital also may share medical information about you in order to coordinate the different things you need, such as prescriptions, lab work and x-rays. We also may disclose medical information about you to people outside the hospital who may be involved in your medical care after you leave the hospital, such as family members, clergy or others we use to provide services that are part of your care.

For Payment: We may use and disclose medical information about you so that the treatment and services you receive at the hospital may be billed to and payment may be collected from you, an insurance company or third party. For example, we may need to give your health plan information about surgery you received at the hospital so your health plan will pay us or reimburse you for the surgery. We may also tell your health plan about a treatment you are going to receive to obtain prior approval and determine whether your plan will cover the treatment.

For Health Care Operations: We may use and disclose medical information about you for hospital operations. These uses and disclosures are necessary to run the hospital and make sure that all of our patients receive quality care. For example, we may use medical information to review our treatment and services and to evaluate the performance of our staff in caring for you. We may also combine medical information about many hospital patients to decide what additional services the hospital should offer, what services are not needed and whether certain new treatments are effective. We may also disclose information to doctors, nurses, technicians, medical students and other hospital personnel for review and learning purposes. We may also combine the medical information we have with medical information from other hospitals to compare how we are doing and see where we can make improvements in the care and services offered. We may remove information that identifies you from this set of medical information so others may use it to study health care and health care delivery without learning who the specific patients are.

Appointment Reminders: We may use and disclose medical information to contact you as a reminder that you have an appointment for treatment or medical care at the hospital.

Contracted Services: We may contract out some services like radiology or anesthesiology and will share information about you to these contracted services personnel for treatment, payment or other health care operations.

Business Associates: We contract certain functions to Business Associates who use your health information to perform those functions. An example is a reference laboratory that analyzes your blood to tissue samples and provides lab results for us to use in the context of your care. We maintain Business Associate Agreements with these Business Associates, who agree to abide by the privacy requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

Treatment Alternatives: We may use and disclose medical information to tell you about or recommend possible treatment options or alternatives that may be of interest to you.

For Health Related Benefits and Services: We may use and disclose medical information to tell you about health related benefits or services that may be of interest to you.

Fundraising Activities: We may use medical information about you to contact you in an effort to raise money for the hospital and its operations. We may disclose medical information to a foundation related to the hospital so that the foundation may contact you in raising money for the hospital. We only would release contact information, such as your name, address and phone number and the dates you received treatment or services at the hospital. If you do not want the hospital to contact you for fundraising efforts, you must notify UHC’s Public Relations Director at 327 Medical Park Drive, Bridgeport, WV 26330, in writing.

Hospital Directory: Unless you direct us not to release your information, we may include certain limited information about you in the hospital directory while you are a patient at the hospital. This information may include your name, location in the hospital and your religious affiliation. The directory information, except for your religious affiliation, may also be released to people who ask for you by name. Your religious affiliation may be given to a member of the clergy, such as a priest or rabbi, even if they don’t ask for you by name. This is so your family, friends, and clergy can visit you in the hospital.

Individuals Involved in Your Care or Payment for Your Care: Unless you direct us not to release your information, we may release medical information about you to a friend or family member who is involved in your medical care. We may also give information to someone who helps pay for your care. We may also tell your family or friends your condition if they have the proper patient code to receive this information. In addition, we may disclose medical 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.

Research:
 Except in limited circumstances as required by licensing or accrediting bodies, you will be notified and your consent secured before such disclosures.

As Required by Law:
 We will disclose medical information about you without your consent or authorization when required to do so by federal, state or local law.

To Avert a Serious Threat to Health or Safety: We may use or disclose medical information about you when necessary to prevent a serious threat to your health and safety or the health and safety of the public or another person. Any disclosure, however, would only be to someone able to help prevent the threat.

Special Situations

Organ and Tissue Donation: We are required by law to release medical 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.

Military and Veterans: When the appropriate conditions apply, we may use or disclose protected health information of individuals who are Armed Forces personnel or veterans (1) for activities deemed necessary by appropriate military command authorities; (2) for the purpose of a determination by the Department of Veterans Affairs of your eligibility for benefits, or (3) to foreign military authority if you are a member of that foreign military service.

Workers Compensation: We may release medical information about you for workers compensation or similar programs. These programs provide benefits for work-related injuries or illness.

Public Health Risk: We may disclose medical information about you for public health activities. These activities generally include the following:

  • To prevent or control disease, injury or disability;
  • To report births and deaths;
  • To report child abuse or neglect or adult abuse or neglect of a protected person;
  • To report reactions to medications or problems with products;
  • 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.

Health Oversight Activities: We may disclose medical information to a health oversight agency for activities authorized by law. These oversight activities include, for example, audit investigations, inspections and licensures. These activities are necessary for the government to monitor the health care system, government programs and compliance with civil rights laws.

Lawsuits and Disputes: If you are involved in a lawsuit or a dispute, we may disclose medical information about you in response to a subpoena or a court or administrative order. We may also disclose medical information to our attorneys to defend ourselves if you are involved in a lawsuit against us.

Law Enforcement: We may release medical information if asked to do so by a law enforcement official:

  • 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 or injury we believe may be the result of criminal conduct;
  • About criminal conduct at the hospital; 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 release medical information to a coroner or medical examiner. This may be necessary for example, to identify a deceased person or determine the cause of death. We may also release medical information about patients of the hospital to funeral directors as necessary to carry out their duties.

National Security and Intelligence:
 We may release medical information about you to authorized federal officials for intelligence, counterintelligence and other national security activities authorized by law.

Protective Services for the President and Others: We may disclose medical information about you to authorized federal officials so they may provide protection to the President, other authorized persons or foreign heads of state or to conduct special investigations for those purposes.

Inmates: If you are an inmate of a correctional institution or under the custody of a law enforcement official, we may release medical information about you to the correctional institution or law enforcement official. This release would be necessary (1) for the institution to provide you with health care; (2) to protect your health and safety or the health and safety of others; or (3) for the safety and security of the correctional institution.

Special Circumstances: There may be special circumstances, including but not limited to, Mental Hygiene Probable Cause Hearings, in which your information may be released as required by law.

Your rights regarding medical information about you

You have the following rights regarding medical information we maintain about you. Please see the attached Contact Directory for names and addresses for submitting your written requests.

Right to Inspect and Copy:
 You have the right to inspect and copy medical information that may be used to make decisions about your care. Usually, this includes medical and billing records, but does not include psychotherapy notes.

To inspect and copy medical information that may be used to make decisions about you, you must submit your request in writing to the UHC Privacy Officer at the address / location provided in the Contact Directory in this Notice. 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 medical information, you may request that the denial be reviewed. Another licensed health care professional chosen by the hospital will review your request and the denial. The person conducting the review will not be the person who denied your request. We will comply with the outcome of the review.

Right to Amend: If you feel that medical information we have about you is incorrect or incomplete, you may ask us to amend the information. You have the right to request an amendment for as long as the information is kept by or for the hospital.

To request an amendment, your request must be made in writing and submitted to UHC’s privacy officer at the address/location provided in the contact directory in this notice. 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.

In addition, we may deny your request if you ask us to amend information that:

  • Was not created by us, unless the person or entity that created the information is no longer available to make the amendment;
  • Is not part of the medical information kept by or for the hospital;
  • Is not part of the information you would be permitted to inspect and copy;
  • Is accurate and complete

Right to Accounting of Disclosures: You have the right to request an accounting of disclosures. This is a list of the disclosures we made of medical information about you.

You may request this list or accounting of disclosures by writing to UHC’s privacy officer at the address/location provided. Your request must state a time period, which may not be longer than six years and may not include dates before April 14, 2003. Your request should indicate what form you want the list (for example, on paper, electronically). 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 and you may choose to withdraw or modify your request at the time before any costs are incurred.

Right to Request Restrictions: You have the right to request a restriction or limitation on the medical information we use or disclose about you for treatment, payment or health care operations. You also have the right to request a limit on the medical information we disclose about you to someone who is involved in your care or the payment of your care, like a family member or friend. For example, you could ask that we not use or disclose information about a surgery you had. 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 registrar when you are registered, to a nurse during your stay or to the Privacy Officer after your stay is concluded. 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, disclosure to your spouse.

Right to Request Confidential Communication:
 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 that we communicate confidentially with you, you must make your request in writing to UHC’s Privacy Officer- Director of Health Information Management Department. We will not ask you the reason for your request. We will 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 notice. You may ask us to give you a copy of this notice at any time. Even if you have agreed to receive this notice electronically, you are still entitled to a paper copy of this notice.

You may obtain a copy of this notice at our website, uhcwv.org.

To obtain a paper copy of this notice, contact the Registration Department or Health Information Management Department.

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 medical 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 the hospital. The notice will contain the effective date on the first page, in the top right-hand corner.

Complaints

If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you may file a complaint with the hospital or with the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Civil Rights, Washington, D.C. 20201, and phone 202-619-0403. To file a complaint with the hospital, see Contact Directory provided in this Notice. All complaints must be submitted in writing.

We support your right to protect the privacy of your medical information. You will not be penalized for filing a complaint. We will not retaliate in any way if you choose to file a complaint with us or with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Other uses and disclosures of medical information

Other uses and disclosures of medical information not covered by this notice or the laws that apply to us will be made only with your written permission. If you provide us permission to use or disclose medical information about you, you may revoke that permission, in writing, at any time. Any revocation must be in writing and directed to UHC’s Privacy Officer. If you revoke your permission, we will no longer use or disclose medical information about you for the reasons covered by your written authorization. You must understand that (1) we are unable to take back any disclosures we have already made with your permission and we are not required to attempt to do so, and (2) that we are required to retain our records of the care that we provided to you.

Contact Directory Information

Privacy Officer

Director, Health Information Management
United Hospital Center
327 Medical Park Drive
Bridgeport, WV 26330
Phone: 681-342-1750

Security Officer

Director, Information Technology
West Virginia United Health System
Phone: 304-368-2700

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (1996) requires that we provide you with a Notice describing how medical information about you may be used and disclosed and how you can get access to this information Please review the attached Notice carefully.

The attached Notice of Privacy explains our duties to you regarding your protected health information as follows:

Uses and Disclosures of Your Protected Health Information

  • Uses and Disclosures of Protected Health Information for Treatment, Payment and Healthcare Operations
  • Uses and Disclosures of Protected Health Information Based upon Your Written Authorization
  • Other Permitted and Required Uses and Disclosures That May Be Made With Your Authorization or Opportunity to Object
  • Required by Law
  • Public Health and Safety
  • Military Activity and National Security
  • Health Oversight Activities
  • Legal Proceedings
  • Law Enforcement
  • Correctional Institutions (for care to inmates)
  • Coroners, Funeral Directors, and Organ Donation
  • Research
  • Worker’s Compensation

Your Rights Regarding Medical Information About You

  • You have the right to inspect and copy your protected health information.
  • You have the right to request restrictions or limitations on certain uses and disclosures of your protected health information.
  • You have the right to request to receive confidential communications from us by reasonable alternative means or at an alternative location.
  • You have the right to request that we amend your protected health information that is in your designated record set.
  • You have the right to receive an accounting of certain disclosures we have made of your protected health information.
  • You have the right to obtain a paper copy of this Notice of Privacy Practices.

The attached Notice of Privacy Practices also explains whom to contact if you have a question or complaint regarding the use and disclosure of your protected health information.

 

Confidentiality At UHC

Keeping personal health information confidential has always been an important part of the care we deliver at United Hospital Center. In 2003, a federal law called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was introduced to help protect patient privacy.

Notice of Privacy Practices

Upon first admission, UHC provides each patient a Notice of Privacy Practices form that explains the hospital’s role in protecting patient privacy. After review of this form, each patient is asked to sign it. A copy of the form is kept on file, and a patient does not have to sign a form on each visit unless information in the form has changed. Download a pdf of our Privacy Practices.

Patient Code

To help UHC provide health information to the people who are involved in your care, we will give each inpatient a patient code. Anyone asking for information about your care will not be given the information unless they know the code. You will need to give your code to those people who you want to obtain information about your care. Let them know that when they ask for information about you, they will be asked to provide the code number to the staff. If they do not have the code, information with the exception of name, location and general condition will not be provided. It is very important that the people you give your code to not share it with anyone else without your permission. If you have any questions about UHC’s privacy practice or the patient code, be sure to ask your nurse.