Privacy and Security of Health Information
UT Health Science Center respects the rights of our patients. UT Health Science Center is committed to protecting the privacy and securing the healthcare information of our patients
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 was enacted by Congress to create a national standard for protecting the privacy of patients’ personal health information. HIPAA provides patients with several significant rights.
If a patient of UT Health feels their health information has been misused in any way, please call the UT Health Science Center Privacy Office at 903-877-2884. Patients may also call our anonymous Compliance Hotline at 1-877-507-7316.
Each of our patients has the right, to the extent permitted by law, to:
- Reasonable and impartial access to available, medically indicated care, treatment, and services within the university medical center’s capability, regardless of race, religion, beliefs, cultural values, gender, age, or financial status.
- Be informed of continuing healthcare requirements following discharge from the hospital.
- Participate in determining care by consenting to recommended treatments or procedures, formulating advance directives, deciding to withhold resuscitative services, deciding to forgo or withdraw life-sustaining treatment, and appointing a surrogate decision maker.
- Receive information about the illness, course of treatment, and prospects of recovery in terms the patient can understand prior to the start of any care, treatment, or service.
- Refuse treatment, to the extent permitted by law, and to be informed of the medical consequences of such refusal.
- Create an advance directive and have UT Health staff and practitioners who provide care comply with the directive.
- Know the name and professional status of the physicians and others involved in their care.
- Have optimal comfort and dignity during the terminal stage of an illness.
- Have effective assessment and management of pain.
- Expect privacy and confidentiality of protected health information, within legal limits, including discreet handling of case discussion, consultation, examination and treatment.
- Access or restrict access to information contained in the patient’s medical record, request amendment of the patient’s health information and obtain an accounting of disclosures regarding the patient’s health information.
- Receive considerate and respectful care that recognizes individual psychosocial, cultural and spiritual values, beliefs, and preferences.
- Participate in, or have a surrogate decision maker participate in, resolving ethical issues involving care decisions.
- Receive information about the results of treatment, including any significant unexpected patient care outcome or when the outcome differs significantly from the anticipated outcome.
- Receive effective communication that is delivered in a manner which is understandable to each patient including the use of language interpreters and resources for patients with communication impairments.
- Experience a high standard of patient safety while in the hospital.
- Access protective and advocacy services.
- Choose to participate or not participate in a research, investigation, or clinical trial program in which the patient is involved.
- Access spiritual guidance and pastoral care support.
- Receive, at the time of admission, in a language or method that the patient understands, information about the patient rights policy and the mechanism for initiation, review, and when possible, resolution of patient complaints.
- Give or withhold informed consent for production or use of recordings, films, or other images of the patient for purposes other than their care.
- Be free from neglect; exploitation; and verbal, mental, physical, and sexual abuse.
- Have an environment that preserves dignity and contributes to positive self-esteem.
- Have complaints reviewed by UT Health Science Center.
Each patient has the responsibility to:
- Provide proper identification.
- Provide, to the best of his or her knowledge, accurate and complete information about present complaints, past illnesses, hospitalizations, medications, alternative therapy used, and other matters relating to the patient’s health.
- Report perceived risks in his or her care and unexpected changes in his or her condition to the doctor or nurse.
- Inform the doctor or nurse if the patient does not understand the plan of treatment and what is expected of patient.
- Know and follow the treatment plan prescribed by the medical team.
- Express concerns about his or her ability to follow the plan of treatment.
- Make and keep appointments and notify the appropriate staff when unable to do so.
- Accept responsibility for outcomes related to refusing treatment or not following the medical team’s instructions.
- Follow UT Health Science Center’s rules and regulations and secure all valuables or belongings.
- Demonstrate consideration for the rights of staff, other patients and visitors, and assist in the control of noise, the number of visitors, and our no-smoking policy.
- Respect hospital property and the property of others.
- Meet any financial obligations agreed to with the UT Health Science Center in a prompt manner and provide necessary financial information and documentation.
An advance directive is defined as “a written instruction such as living will or medical power of attorney for health care recognized under state law and relating to the provision of such care when the person is incapacitated.” In Texas there are three types of advance directives: Directive to Physicians, Medical Power of Attorney, and Out-of-Hospital Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order. Upon admission to the hospital, the Interdisciplinary Admission Assessment form is used to assess whether a patient has an advance directive or wishes to formulate one. If a patient wishes to formulate an advance directive, the necessary documents are available on each unit.
Once formulated, the completed document, which is signed by the patient, becomes a part of the patient’s permanent medical record. A patient has the option to review or revise advance directives. The existence or lack of an advance directive does not determine an individual’s access to care, treatment or services.
Directive to Physicians
A patient may sign a Directive to Physicians concerning his or her care if he or she is at least 18 years old, of sound mind, and acting on his or her own free will in the presence of two “qualified witnesses.” The Directive to Physicians allows a patient to instruct his or her physician not to use artificial methods to prolong the process of dying if the patient is terminally ill.
A Directive will not become effective until a patient has been diagnosed and certified, in writing, to have a terminal condition by two physicians—one of whom is the attending physician—who have examined the patient. Once the patient is admitted to the hospital, the nurse performing the inpatient admission assessment will ask whether the patient has completed an advance directive and document the information in the medical record.
If the patient wishes to sign a Directive to Physicians, the patient should talk it over with his or her physician and ask that it be made a part of the patient’s medical record. Directive to Physicians forms are available on any inpatient unit, from Central Registration at (903) 877-7818, or Case Management at (903) 877-2800.
Medical Power of Attorney
A Medical Power of Attorney is a document, signed by a competent adult, designating someone he or she trusts as an agent to make health care decisions on his or her behalf should the patient become unable to make such decisions. The individual a patient selects as an agent may consent to medical treatment and may make decisions about withdrawing or withholding life-sustaining treatment.
At UT Health Science Center, we encourage our patients to report and/or discuss quality and patient safety concerns. You may contact the Safety Officer (903-877-7922); Director of Healthcare Quality (903-877-7423); Patient Advocate (903-877-7264); or The Joint Commission (TJC) at 1-800-994-6610, by email email@example.com, by fax at 630-792-5636, or on the TJC website at www.jointcommission.org.