HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, is a law designed to help ensure the portability of health insurance coverage, reduce health care fraud and abuse, enforce standards of health information, and guarantee the security and privacy of health information.

Memorial Hospital is committed to meeting the demands of HIPAA, and to protect our patients' privacy and confidentiality without exception.

What does the HIPAA Privacy Rule do?

The HIPAA Privacy Rule creates national standards to protect individuals' medical records and other personal health information.

  • It gives patients more control over their health information.
  • It sets boundaries on the use and release of health records.
  • It establishes appropriate safeguards that health care providers and others must achieve to protect the privacy of health information.
  • It holds violators accountable, with civil and criminal penalties that can be imposed if they violate patients' privacy rights.
  • It strikes a balance when public responsibility supports disclosure of some forms of data; for example, to protect public health.

For patients it means being able to make informed choices when seeking care and reimbursement for care, based on how personal health information may be used.

  • It enables patients to find out how their information may be used, and about certain disclosures of their information that have been made.
  • It generally limits release of information to the minimum reasonably needed for the purpose of the disclosure.
  • It generally gives patients the right to examine and obtain a copy of their own health records and request corrections.
  • It empowers individuals to control certain uses and disclosures of their health information.


Our pledge regarding your medical information

We are committed to protecting the confidentiality of your medical information, and are required by law to do so. This notice describes how we may use your medical information within the hospital and how we may disclose it to others outside the hospital. This notice also describes the rights you have concerning your own medical information. Please review it carefully and let us know if you have questions.

How will we use and disclose your medical information?

Treatment. We may use your medical information to provide you with medical services and supplies. We may also disclose your medical information to others who need that information to treat you, such as doctors, physician assistants, nurses, medical and nursing students, other medical career students, technicians, therapists, emergency services and medical transportation providers, medical equipment providers, community agencies and health care providers for coordination of care, and others involved in your care. For example, we will allow your physician to have access to your hospital medical record to assist in your treatment at the hospital and for follow-up care.

We also may use and disclose your medical information to remind you of an upcoming appointment, to inform you about possible treatment options or alternatives, or to tell you about health-related services available to you.

Patient directory. In order to assist family members and other visitors in locating you while you are in the hospital, the hospital maintains a patient directory. This directory includes your name and room number.

In addition, we may disclose your general condition (such as fair, stable or critical). We will disclose this information to someone who asks for you by name. If you do not want to be included in the hospital's patient directory, please notify registration at the time of admission or submit your request in writing to the registration department of Memorial hospital. (PLEASE NOTE: If you choose not to be listed in the directory, you will not receive any flowers, cards, clergy visits or telephone calls).

Family members and others involved in your care. We may disclose your medical information to immediate family members or another person with whom you have a close personal relationship. We also may disclose your medical information to disaster relief organizations to help locate a family member or a friend in a disaster. If you do not want the hospital to disclose your medical information to family members or others as outlined here, please notify your nurse.

Payment. We may use and disclose your medical information to get paid for the medical services and supplies we provide to you. For example, your health plan or health insurance company may ask to see parts of your medical record before they will pay us for your treatment. We may provide this information to them according to the terms set in your prior authorization.

Hospital operations We may use and disclose your medical information if it is necessary to improve the quality of care we provide to patients or to run the hospital. We may use your medical information to conduct quality improvement activities, to obtain audit, accounting or legal services, or to conduct business management and planning. For example, we may look at your medical record to evaluate whether hospital personnel, your doctors, or other health care professionals provided appropriate care.

Fundraising. Many of our patients like to make contributions to the hospital. The hospital or its foundation may contact you in the future to raise money for the hospital. If you do not want the hospital or its foundation to contact you for fundraising, please notify The Memorial Foundation in writing.

Research. We may use or disclose your medical information for research projects, such as studying the effectiveness of a treatment you received. These research projects must go through a special process that protects the confidentiality of your medical information.

Required by law. Federal, state, or local laws sometimes require us to disclose patients' medical information. For instance, we are required to report the abuse or neglect of children or vulnerable adults. We also are required to give information to the State Workers' Compensation Program for work-related injuries.

Public health. We also may report certain medical information for public health purposes. For instance, we are required to report certain communicable diseases to the State. We also may need to report patient problems with medications or medical products to the FDA, or may notify patients of recalls of products they are using.

Public safety. We may disclose medical information for public safety purposes in limited circumstances. We may disclose medical information to law enforcement officials in response to a search warrant or a grand jury subpoena. We also may disclose your medical information to law enforcement officials and others to prevent an imminent threat to health or safety.

Health oversight activities. We may disclose medical information to a government agency that oversees the hospital or its personnel, such as the Washington State Department of Health, the federal agencies that oversee Medicare, the Medical Quality Assurance Commission, or the Nursing Quality Assurance Commission. These agencies need medical information to monitor the hospital's compliance with state and federal laws.

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