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HIPAA: Your right to privacy

If you have been to your doctor, dentist, or any other healthcare provider recently, you have likely heard about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Essentially, HIPAA means that the privacy and security of your medical information now has the backing of the federal government. 

What HIPAA means for you

What exactly does HIPAA mean for you, the hospital patient?

It means just a little extra paperwork, for starters. The law requires us to give you our Notice of Privacy Practices when you register for any service of Community Hospital. You'll also be asked to sign a form indicating that you received the material. You aren't required to read or sign any of it, but we're required to give it to you.

If you are coming for an inpatient stay or treatment in our Emergency department, you'll have an opportunity to tell us whether you want the hospital to acknowledge that you are here or not. If you say yes, you can receive phone calls in your room and visitors can be directed to your location. If you say no, we will not give that information out to callers or visitors; we will only use it in providing your care and other hospital operations, in billing, and as required by law.

You may find that it's difficult for friends and family members to get detailed information about you when you're a patient. Even if you've said it's OK for us to tell people you're here, the only information we are allowed to give is your room location and a one-word description of your condition (good, fair, serious, or critical).

There are things you can do to get more information in the hands of those you want to have it. You will, of course, be able to speak to anyone you wish to give information to directly. You will be able to choose someone who will be the hospital staff's primary contact; with your authorization we will be able to give the details of your care to this person. And we encourage you to choose a family spokesperson and ask your loved ones to call that person for updates.

We appreciate your understanding as we comply with these laws, and we hope you will let us know how we're doing. If you ever feel that our privacy safeguards have failed, please contact our privacy official at (831) 625-4582.