Public Records Request

Index No: KGH003078

TITLE: Request for Copy or Review of District Public Records

Date: January 1, 2011
Implementation Date: February 2005
Revision Date: March 2007

Download and print a public records request form.

I. POLICY:

It is the policy of Kennewick Public Hospital District, Benton County, commonly known as Trios Health (the "District") to release records of the District in compliance with the Public Records Act (the "Act"), set forth at Chapter 42.56 RCW, and any other applicable provisions of federal or state law.

II. PURPOSE STATEMENT:

The purposes of this policy are to: (1) describe the organization of the District; and (2) comply with RCW 42.56, the Public Records Act. Except where these guidelines are mandated by statute, the guidelines in this policy are discretionary and advisory only and shall not impose any affirmative duty on the District. The District reserves the right to apply and interpret this policy as it sees fit, and to revise or change the policy at any time.

This policy shall be available at the District's Main Office and posted on the District's web-site.

III. PROCEDURE FOR IMPLEMENTATION:

A. Definitions

  • "Act" refers to the Public Records Act, at RCW Chapter 42.56.
  • "District" refers to Kennewick Public Hospital District, Benton County, doing business as Trios Health.
  • "Health Care Information" means "individually identifiable health information" as defined in 42U.S.C.1320d(6)
  • "Main Office" is defined in Section I of this Policy.
  • "Policy" refers to this policy for the Public Records Act.
  • "Privacy Plan" is Kennewick Public Hospital District Privacy Plan, implemented January 2004.
  • "Public Records Officer" is the person identified in Section III-C of this Policy.
  • "Records request" means a request for public records made to the District pursuant to the Act.
  • "Requester" means the person or entity that has made a records request to the District.

B. Organization of the District

Kennewick Public Hospital District includes the hospital proper, as well as the clinics owned and operated by Trios Medical Group. The District's Main Office is located at:

900 S. Auburn Street
Kennewick, Washington 99336

All Record Requests shall be made to and inspected at, the Main Office. The Main Office is open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except legal holidays. The District consists of the hospital and 13 clinics, and is managed by the Superintendent/CEO and a 7-member Board of Commissioners.

C. Guidelines

A. Public Records Request

1. Public Records Officer
The District's Public Records Officer is the Superintendent/CEO. The Public Records Officer may be contacted in person at the Main Office, or via first class mail addressed to the Public Records Officer at the Main Office.

2. How to Make a Public Records Request
Public records may be inspected or copies of public records obtained by the public at the District's Main Office upon compliance with the following procedures:

The District encourages that all requests be made in writing and directed to the Public Records Officer on the attached form. It may be mailed, or delivered in person to the Main Office. In-person requests must be made during the Main Office's normal business hours. The request form, prescribed by the District, shall be available at the Main Office and on the District's website. The request should include the following information:

  • The name and address of the Requester;
  • The date of the request;
  • A detailed description of the public record being requested;
  • Whether the Requester wants copies, or wants to inspect the requested records; • The address where copies are to be mailed if copies are requested;
  • A statement regarding whether the records are being requested for a commercial purpose; and
  • Signature of the Requester.

When a Records Request is made orally, the District should confirm the request in writing in its initial 5-day response. Any such request must be made during the Main Office's normal business hours.

3. Procedure for Response to Request
Only public records as defined by RCW 42.17.020 are subject to disclosure. Requests for Health Care Information shall be forwarded to the District's Medical Records Department and handled pursuant to the District's Privacy Plan. In such situations, the Public Records Officer shall notify the Requester within five (5) days that the request has been forwarded and provide the Requester with a contact person who will be handling the request.

4. Response
The District shall respond promptly to a Records Request. Within five (5) business days of receiving a Records Request, the District shall respond by:

  • Notifying the Requester that the documents are available; or
  • Acknowledging the request in writing and providing a reasonable estimate of the time the District will require to respond to the request; or
  • Denying the Records Request, stating the reasons why (see Exemptions below).

5. Large Requests.
When a Records Request is for a large volume of records, the District may elect to provide records on an installment basis. If a Requester does not contact the Public Records Officer within 15 days to arrange for the review of the first installment, the District may deem the request abandoned and stop fulfilling the remainder of the request.

6. Notice to Third Parties
If a public record contains personal information that identifies an individual or organization other than the subject of the requested public record, the District may notify that individual or organization to allow the third party to seek relief pursuant to RCW 42.56.540. The District may take this into account when providing an estimate for when the records will be available. The District should also review any contracts with third parties that may contain special notice provisions.

7. Exemptions
After the District has gathered responsive records, the District shall determine whether an exemption applies to all or part of the record. The District need not make available for inspection and copying Public Records exempt from public inspection and copying under RCW Chapter 42.56 and other records exempt from public inspection and copying under state or federal statute or regulation, including but not limited to:

  • Records that are protected by trade secrets law;
  • Personal information in files maintained for Board members and District employees to the extent that disclosure would violate their right to privacy, including but not limited to addresses, phone numbers, Social Security number, voluntary deductions, marriage status, number of dependents, and any garnishment deductions; 
  • Preliminary drafts, recommendations, and intra-agency memoranda in which opinions are expressed or policies formulated or recommended, except that a specific record shall not be exempt when publicly cited by the Board in connection with any Board action;
  • All applications for public employment, including the names of applicants, resumes, and other related materials submitted with respect to an applicant;
  • The residential addresses and telephone numbers of employees or volunteers of a public agency which are held by the agency in personnel records, employment or volunteer rosters, or mailing lists of employees or volunteers;
  • Quality improvement and medical malpractice prevention program items (including but not limited to information gathered pursuant to or protected by: RCW 42.56.360, RCW 4.24.250, RCW 18.20.390, RCW 43.70.510, RCW 70.41.200, RCW 70.44.062, RCW 70.56.020, RCW 70.56.040, RCW 74.42.640);
  • Medical records except as allowed by the Health Care Information Act, chapter 70.02 RCW, HIPAA, Public Law No. 104-191, 110 Stat. 1936 (1996), and all applicable federal and state regulations;
  • Records obtained by the District related to the impaired physician program pursuant to RCW 18.71.300 through .340;
  • Complaints filed under chapter 18.130 RCW after July 27, 1997, to the extent provided in RCW 18.130.095;
  • Except for published statistical compilations and reports relating to the infant mortality review studies that do not identify individual cases and sources of information, any records or documents obtained, prepared, or maintained by the local health department for the purposes of an infant mortality review conducted by the Department of Health under RCW 70.05.170; or
  • Any record which is exempt from disclosure under state or federal law.

8. Copying Public Records
No fee shall be charged for the inspection of Public Records on the premises.

9. Copies of Non-medical Records
For records not containing Health Care Information, the District will charge one or more of the following charges:

  • Fifteen cents per page for standard black-and-white copies;
  • The actual cost of copying for any non-standard copies or items, including the charge for staff time necessary for making such copies are available at a rate of $12 per hour;
  • Cost of taxes actually charged by any third-party vendor used to make copies; and
  • Postage and shipping costs, including the cost of any containers used in shipping.

The Public Records Officer may elect to waive these fees. Fees will be waived when the expense of billing exceeds the cost of copying and postage.

10. Deposits
Before copying any record, the District may charge a deposit up to 10% of the estimated costs. When records are being produced on an installment basis, the District may charge for each installment. If an installment is not claimed and paid for within 15 days, the District is under no obligation to fulfill the balance of the Records Request.

11. Inspection of Records

a. Notice
Once the Public Records Officer has collected all responsive records (or the first installment if the records are being produced on an installment basis), has reviewed the responsive records to remove exempt records, and has prepared an exemption log (see attached form), the Public Records Officer shall notify the requestor that the records are available.

b. Response by Requester
If the Requester does not contact the Public Records Officer to arrange for payment of the copies or for review of the records within 15 days after the Notice of Availability Letter was sent, the District may consider the records request abandoned, unless the Requester seeks an additional amount of time to review the records.

c. Protection of Records
In order that Public Records maintained on the premises of the District may be protected from damage or disorganization as required by the Act, the following procedures and practices are hereby instituted:

  • No public record shall be removed from District's Main Office without the Public Records Officer's permission;
  • No public record may be marked, defaced, torn, damaged, destroyed, unreasonably disorganized or removed from its proper location or order by a member of the public;
  • Inspection of any public records shall be conducted in the presence of the Public Records Officer or designated staff;
  • Public records maintained in a file jacket or binders, or in chronological order, may not be dismantled except for the purpose of copying, and then only by District staff; and
  • Public records of the District may be copied only on the copying machines of the District unless other arrangements are made by the Public Records Officer.

d. Loss of Right to Inspect
Inspection shall be denied and the records withdrawn by the Public Records Officer if the Requester, when reviewing records, acts in a manner which will damage or substantially disorganize the records or interfere excessively with other essential functions of the District.

e. Closing the File
Once all copies of requested records have been provided to the Requester, the Requester has reviewed the requested records, or 15 days have passed since the Requester was notified that the records were available and the Requester has failed to contact the Public Records Officer to arrange for the review of those records or for payment for copies, the Public Records Officer shall treat the request as closed.

f. Index of Public Records
For the reasons stated in Resolution 2003-12, incorporated herein by reference, the District finds that it would be unduly burdensome and would interfere with District operations to maintain an index of records. The District will make available for public disclosure all indices which may at a future time be developed for District use.

g. Disclaimer of Liability Neither the District nor any officer, employee, official or custodian shall be liable, nor shall a cause of action exist, for any loss or damage based upon a release of Public Records if the person releasing the records acted in good faith in attempting to comply with this policy.

This policy is not intended to expand or restrict the rights of disclosure or privacy as they exist under state and federal law. Despite the use of any mandatory terms such as "shall," nothing in this policy is intended to impose mandatory duties on the District beyond those imposed by state and federal law.

IV. REFERENCES:

Distribution: Housewide
Prepared by: Administration
Reviewed by: Board of Commissioners & Superintendent/CEO
Approved by: Board of Commissioners