How We May Use and Disclose Your Medical Information

The following sections describe different ways that we may use and disclose your medical information. For each category of uses or disclosures, we will describe them and give some examples. Some information such as certain drug and alcohol information, HIV information and mental health information, is entitled to special restrictions related to its use and disclosure.

UCSF abides by all applicable state and federal laws related to the protection of this information. Not every use or disclosure will be listed. All of the ways we are permitted to use and disclose information, however, will fall within one of the following 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, students, or other health system personnel who are involved in taking care of you in the health system. 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 hospital's food service if you have diabetes so that we can arrange for appropriate meals. We may also share medical information about you with other UCSF personnel or non-UCSF providers, agencies or facilities in order to provide or 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 UCSF who may be involved in your continuing medical care after you leave UCSF, such as other health care providers, transport companies, community agencies and family members.

For Payment. We may use and disclose medical information about you so that the treatment and services you receive at UCSF or from other entities, such as an ambulance company, may be billed to and payment may be collected from you, an insurance company or a third party. For example, we may need to give information to your health plan about surgery you received at UCSF so your health plan will pay us or reimburse you for the surgery. We may also tell your health plan about a proposed treatment to determine whether your plan will pay for the treatment.

For Health Care Operations. We may use and disclose medical information about you for UCSF operations. These uses and disclosures are made for quality of care and medical staff activities, UCSF health sciences education, and other teaching programs. Your medical information may also be used or disclosed to comply with law and regulation, for contractual obligations, patients' claims, grievances or lawsuits, health care contracting, legal services, business planning and development, business management and administration, the sale of all or part of UCSF to another entity, underwriting and other insurance activities and to operate the health system. For example, we may review medical information to find ways to improve treatment and services to our patients. We may also disclose information to doctors, nurses, technicians, medical and other students, and other health system personnel for performance improvement and educational purposes.

Appointment Reminders. We may contact you to remind you that you have an appointment at UCSF.

Treatment Alternatives. We may tell you about or recommend possible treatment options or alternatives that may be of interest to you.

Health-Related Benefits and Services. We may contact you to tell you about benefits or services that we provide.

Fundraising Activities. We may contact you to provide information about UCSF sponsored activities, including fundraising programs and events. We would only use contact information, such as your name, address and phone number and the dates you received treatment or services at UCSF.

News Gathering Activities. A member of your health care team may contact you or one of your family members to discuss whether or not you want to participate in a media or news story. News reporters often seek interviews with patients injured in accidents or experiencing particular medical conditions or procedures. For example, a reporter working on a story about a new cancer therapy may ask whether any of the patients undergoing that therapy might be willing to be interviewed.

Hospital Directory. If you are hospitalized, we may include certain limited information about you in the hospital directory. This is so your family, friends and clergy can visit you in the hospital and generally know how you are doing. This information may include your name, location in the hospital, your general condition (e.g., fair, stable, etc.) 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 members of the clergy, such as ministers or rabbis, even if they don't ask for you by name. You may restrict or prohibit the use or disclosure of this information by notifying the Admitting Department.

Individuals Involved in Your Care or Payment for Your Care. We may release medical information to anyone involved in your medical care, e.g., a friend, family member, personal representative, or any individual you identify. We may also give information to someone who helps pay for your care. We may also tell your family or friends about your general condition and that you are in the hospital.

Disaster Relief Efforts. 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. The University of California is a research institution. All research projects conducted by the University of California must be approved through a special review process to protect patient safety, welfare and confidentiality. Your medical information may be important to further research efforts and the development of new knowledge. We may use and disclose medical information about our patients for research purposes, subject to the confidentiality provisions of state and federal law.

On occasion, researchers contact patients regarding their interest in participating in certain research studies. Enrollment in those studies can only occur after you have been informed about the study, had an opportunity to ask questions, and indicated your willingness to participate by signing a consent form. When approved through a special review process, other studies may be performed using your medical information without requiring your consent. These studies will not affect your treatment or welfare, and your medical information will continue to be protected. For example, a research study may involve a chart review to compare the outcomes of patients who received different types of treatment.

As Required By Law. We will disclose medical information about you when required to do so by federal or state law.

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

Organ and Tissue Donation. If you are an organ donor, we may 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. If you are or were a member of the armed forces, we may release medical information about you to military command authorities as authorized or required by law. We may also release medical information about foreign military personnel to the appropriate foreign military authority as authorized or required by law.

Workers' Compensation. We may use or disclose medical information about you for Workers' Compensation or similar programs as authorized or required by law. These programs provide benefits for work-related injuries or illnesses.

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

  • preventing or controlling disease (such as cancer and tuberculosis), injury or disability;
  • reporting vital events such as births and deaths;
  • reporting child abuse or neglect;
  • reporting adverse events or surveillance related to food, medications or defects or problems with products;
  • notifying persons of recalls, repairs or replacements of products they may be using;
  • notifying a person who may have been exposed to a disease or may be at risk of contracting or spreading a disease or condition; reporting to the employer findings concerning a work-related illness or injury or workplace-related medical surveillance;
  • notifying the appropriate government authority if we believe a patient has been the victim of abuse, neglect or domestic violence and make this disclosure as authorized or required by law.

Health Oversight Activities. We may disclose medical information to governmental, licensing, auditing, and accrediting agencies as authorized or required by law.

Legal Proceedings. We may disclose medical information to courts, attorneys and court employees in the course of conservatorship and certain other judicial or administrative proceedings.

Lawsuits and Other Legal Actions. In connection with lawsuits or other legal proceedings, we may disclose medical information about you in response to a court or administrative order, or in response to a subpoena, discovery request, warrant, summons or other lawful process.

Law Enforcement. If asked to do so by law enforcement, and as authorized or required by law, we may release medical information:

  • to identify or locate a suspect, fugitive, material witness, or missing person;
  • about a suspected victim of a crime if, under certain limited circumstances, we are unable to obtain the person's agreement;
  • about a death suspected to be the result of criminal conduct;
  • about criminal conduct at UCSF; and
  • in case of a medical emergency, 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. In most circumstances, we may disclose medical information to a coroner or medical examiner. This may be necessary, for example, to identify a deceased person or determine cause of death. We may also disclose medical information about patients of UCSF to funeral directors as necessary to carry out their duties.

National Security and Intelligence Activities. As authorized or required by law, we may disclose medical information about you to authorized federal officials for intelligence, counterintelligence, and other national security activities.

Protective Services for the President and Others. As authorized or required by law, we may disclose medical information about you to authorized federal officials so they may conduct special investigations or provide protection to the President, other authorized persons or foreign heads of state.

Inmates. If you are an inmate of a correctional institution or under the custody of law enforcement officials, we may release medical information about you to the correctional institution as authorized or required by law.

Other Uses of Medical Information

Other uses and disclosures of medical information not covered by this Notice 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. If you revoke your permission, we will no longer use or disclose medical information about you for the reasons covered by your written permission. You understand that we are unable to take back any disclosures we have already made with your permission, and that we will retain our records of the care provided to you as required by law.

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