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Notice of Privacy Practices and Limits to Confidentiality

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

The federal law known as HIPAA provides privacy protections for medical records and client rights with regard to the use and disclosure of Protected Health Information (PHI) used for the purpose of treatment, payment and health care operations. HIPAA requires that the clinic provide you with a Notice of Privacy Practices (the Notice) for use and disclosure of PHI for treatment, payment, and health care operations. The Notice, which is included on this web page, explains HIPAA and its application to your personal health information in greater detail. The law requires that we obtain your signature acknowledging that the clinic has provided you with this information at the end of the session.

Confidentiality

Utah law protects the privacy of communications between a client and a psychologist. Every effort will be made to keep your evaluation and treatment strictly confidential. In most situations, the clinic will only release information about your treatment to others if you sign a written authorization form that meets certain legal requirements.
However, in the following situations, no authorization is required:

a. Clinical information about your case may be shared fully within the University of Utah Educational Assessment and Student Support Clinic by the students enrolled in the clinic practicum and faculty for educational and therapeutic purposes. If clinical staff present case information at case conferences, the information will be disguised so that it will be impossible to link the information to you or your family.

b. Personal information is shared for clinic administrative purposes such as scheduling and quality assurance. Clinic files are also available to program site visitors. Data contained in your file are available for archival research (i.e., reviews of records to describe clinic referrals, outcomes, and trends) with your consent and as long as your identity cannot be linked to the data used. All staff members have been trained regarding protecting your privacy and have agreed not to disclose any information without authorization or approval of the Clinic Director in mandated reporting situations (see Limits to Confidentiality).

c. On occasion, your clinician may find it helpful to consult with another health or mental health professional. During such a consultation, your identity is not disclosed, and the other professional is legally bound to keep the information confidential. It is our policy to tell you about such consultations only if it is important to your work with your clinician.

Limits to Confidentiality

There are situations where the clinic may be required or permitted to disclose information without your authorization. These situations are unusual at this clinic. These include:

a. If the clinic has knowledge, evidence, or reasonable concern regarding the abuse or neglect of a child, elderly person, or disabled person, it is required to file a report with the appropriate agency. Once such a report is filed, we may be required to provide additional information.

b. If a client communicates an explicit threat of serious physical harm to a clearly identifiable victim or victims, and has the apparent intent and ability to carry out such a threat, the clinic may be required to take protective actions. These actions may include notifying the potential victim, contacting the police, and/or seeking hospitalization for the client.

c. If a patient threatens to harm himself/herself, a clinician may be obligated to seek hospitalization for him/her or to contact family members or others who can help provide protection.

d. Although courts have recognized a therapist-client privilege, there may be circumstances in which a court would order the clinic to disclose personal health information. We also may be required to provide information about court-ordered evaluations or treatments. If you are involved in, or contemplating litigation, you should consult with your attorney to determine whether a court would be likely to order the clinic to disclose information.

e. The clinic is required to provide information requested by a legal guardian of a minor child, including a non-custodial parent.

f. If a government agency is requesting information for health oversight activities or to prevent terrorism (Patriot Act), the clinic may be required to provide it.

g. If a client files a complaint or lawsuit against the clinic or professional staff, the clinic may disclose relevant information regarding the client in order to defend itself. If any of these situations were to arise, the clinic would make every effort to fully discuss it with you before taking action, and would limit disclosure to what is necessary.

h. While this written summary of exceptions to confidentiality should prove helpful in informing you about potential problems, it is important that you discuss any questions you have with us now or in the future. The laws governing confidentiality can be quite complex. In situations where specific advice is required, formal legal advice may be needed.

Professional Records and Client Rights

The laws and standards of the psychology profession require that the clinic keep Protected Health Information (PHI) about you in your clinical record. Generally, you may examine and/or receive a copy of your clinical record if you request it in writing, with a few exceptions: 1) some of the unusual circumstances described above, 2) when the record makes reference to another person (other than a health care provider) and we believe that access is reasonably likely to cause substantial harm to that other person, or 3) where information has been supplied confidentially by others. Also, the clinic will not release copyrighted test information or raw data to a non-psychologist. Because these are professional records, they can be misinterpreted. For this reason, the clinic recommends that you initially review them in the presence of your clinician, or have them forwarded to another mental health professional so you can discuss the contents. The University of Utah Educational Assessment and Student Support Clinic keeps no additional notes (sometimes called psychotherapy or process notes) that are not contained in the clinical record.

In most circumstances, the clinic is allowed to charge a copying fee for reproducing your records. If the clinic refuses your request for access to your records, you have the right to a review of this decision (except for information supplied confidentially by others), which the Clinic Director will discuss with you upon request.

HIPAA provides you with the following rights with regard to your clinical records and disclosures of protected health information: 1) requesting that the clinic amend your record; 2) requesting restrictions on what information from your clinical records is disclosed to others; 3) requesting an accounting of most disclosures of protected health information that you have neither consented to nor authorized; 4) determining the location to which protected information disclosures were sent; 5) having any complaints you make about clinic policies and procedures recorded in your records; and 5) the right to a paper copy of the Privacy Agreement, Notice of Privacy Policies, and our privacy policies and procedures. Your clinician or the Clinic Director will be happy to discuss any of these rights with you.

Last Updated: 10/20/16