The law protects the privacy of all communications between a patient and a mental health professional. In most situations, we can only release information about your treatment to others if you sign a written Authorization form that meets certain legal requirements imposed by HIPAA and/or Illinois law. However, in the following situations, no authorization is required:
• Your therapist may occasionally find it helpful to consult other health and mental health professionals about a case. All therapists-in-training are required to do so. During a consultation, your therapist will make every effort to avoid revealing your identity. The other professionals are also legally bound to keep the information confidential.
• Our Practice employs administrative staff. We need to share protected information with these individuals for both clinical and administrative purposes, such as scheduling, billing and quality assurance. All our mental health professionals are bound by the same rules of confidentiality. All our staff members have been given training about protecting your privacy and have agreed not to release any information outside of the practice without the permission of a professional staff member.
• Our Practice utilizes a billing service, and periodically employs the services of other professionals such as accountants. All staff members at each of these agencies is also bound to protect your privacy and have agreed not to release any information outside our practice and within their own agency.
• You should also be aware that your contract with your health insurance company requires that you authorize us to provide it with information relevant to the services that we provide to you. If you are seeking reimbursement for services under your health insurance policy, you will be required to allow us to provide such information. We are required to provide a clinical diagnosis. Sometimes we are required to provide additional clinical information such as treatment plans or summaries, or copies of your entire Clinical Record. In such situations, we will make every effort to release only the minimum information about you that is necessary for the purpose requested.
• If you are involved in a court proceeding and a request is made for information concerning your diagnosis and treatment, such information is protected by the psychologist-patient privilege law. We cannot disclose any information without a court order. If you are involved in or contemplating litigation, you should consult with your attorney to determine whether a court would be likely to order your therapist to disclose information.
There are some situations in which we are legally obligated to take actions, which we believe are necessary to attempt to protect others from harm and we may have to reveal some information about a patient’s treatment. These situations are unusual in our practice.
• If your therapist has reasonable cause to believe that a child under 18 may be an abused child or a neglected child, the law requires that we file a report with the local office of the Department of Children and Family Services. Once such a report is filed, we may be required to provide additional information.
• If we have reason to believe that an adult over the age of 60 living in a domestic situation has been abused or neglected in the preceding 12 months, the law requires that we file a report with the agency designated to receive such reports by the Department of Aging. Once such a report is filed, we may be required to provide additional information.
• If you have made a specific threat of violence against another or if your therapist believes that you present a clear, imminent risk of serious physical harm to another, we may be required to disclose information in order to take protective actions. These actions may include notifying the potential victim, contacting the police, or seeking your hospitalization.
• If your therapist believes that you present a clear, imminent risk of serious physical or mental injury or death to yourself, we may be required to disclose information in order to take protective actions. These actions may include seeking your hospitalization or contacting family members or others who can assist in protecting you. If such a situation arises, your therapist will make every effort to fully discuss it with you before taking any action and will limit disclosure to what is necessary.