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Office Policies

Thank you for selecting me as your psychiatrist. I will strive to provide you with the best possible care.



Health care has become very complex and demands more than ever that the patient be knowledgeable in order to make decisions about treatment options. You need to know your rights and responsibilities as a patient, what you can expect from me as your psychiatrist, and how psychiatric treatment works. We hope that providing this information in writing will reduce the likelihood of misunderstanding. Please ask if you want further clarification regarding any of these issues or policies.


DR. EDWARDS IS A PSYCHIATRIST
Today there are professionals of many disciplines providing assessment, medication management, counseling or psychotherapy, some claiming to provide psychiatric services. Among these, psychiatrists alone have an MD (or DO) degree like other physicians. Psychiatrists also have special training in prescribing psychiatric medications. Psychiatry is a medical specialty requiring training beyond that necessary to become a physician.


TRAINING AND QUALIFICATIONS
After graduating from University of Virginia School of Medicine Dr. Edwards completed four years of internship and residency training in the medical specialty of psychiatry at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City. He studied "family systems" psychotherapy at Center for Family Learning in New Rochelle, New York. He is certified in psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and has been in continuous private practice since 1983.


SERVICES DR. EDWARDS PROVIDES
Your first contact with any physician usually includes a diagnostic examination. At the end of this the doctor discusses your diagnosis and treatment alternatives. Psychiatric treatment usually involves medication or psychotherapy or a combination of the two. Dr. Edwards can also refer you to other professionals if indicated either for consultation or for treatment.
Occasionally a psychiatric diagnosis or treatment becomes an issue in a legal proceeding or insurance claim. Any time Dr. Edwards must spend in connection with such administrative activities will be billed at his basic hourly rate for non-clinical services at his discretion. This might include, for example, telephone conference with an attorney or insurance case manager, completion of insurance forms, travel time, record review, preparation, court testimony, and deposition.
Dr. Edwards also provides psychiatric expert witness and independent examination services. These services will not be provided with respect to current or prior patients of Dr. Edwards. Dr. Edwards' does not provide treatment to patients he has evaluated as an expert witness or independent examiner in the past.
Dr. Edwards is responsible only for providing diagnosis and treatment services. He is not able to predict or prevent the patient or significant other from harming himself or others or from other actions that might have adverse consequences. Patients are responsible for their behavior.


MEDICATION
Evidence from research suggests that treatment of many psychiatric disorders can be accomplished by shifting the balance of chemicals in the brain. You and Dr. Edwards may consider, as part of your treatment, the use of drugs that can alter the balance of these chemicals with an acceptable risk of adverse or "side" effects. Dr. Edwards will provide you with information regarding the expected therapeutic effects and side effects prior to or during your treatment as needed. Psychotherapy by an independent non-physician psychotherapist of your choice may benefit you as well.
Dr. Edwards requires that you meet with him regularly either in person or by video conference to monitor your response to medication and any adverse effects you may experience for as long as he treats you. These visits will usually last no more than about 15 minutes. You must visit Dr. Edwards at least every 3 months in order to qualify for continued medication, but some visits may occur using video-conference. You must visit Dr. Edwards in the office at least once yearly.
Dr. Edwards may order refills by phone, fax or Internet. Do not let yourself run out of medication. It is your responsibility to allow sufficient time to refill prescriptions during normal business hours. Do not wait until a Friday or the day before a holiday. When you request a refill be sure to provide the name of the drug and the name and phone number of the pharmacy. You may either contact your pharmacy to request a refill, or you may contact Dr. Edwards by voice mail, email or text. Dr. Edwards only orders medication refills for active patients and may require that you schedule a follow up appointment before he authorizes the refill. Always call the pharmacy to be sure your prescription is ready before you go to the pharmacy. Dr. Edwards can order most, but not all drugs in most, but not all, other states when you travel, but many pharmacies can transfer prescriptions to branches in other states.
Some third party payers require prior authorization for reimbursement for some medications. The payer may demand that Dr. Edwards provide information about your diagnosis and treatment in writing or by telephone. If you want Dr. Edwards to provide this service, you must pay a nominal fee in advance and complete an authorization form. This matter involves reimbursement only and will not be treated as an urgent medical matter. At your discretion and with your written authorization Dr. Edwards will provide a copy of your record to the payer at no charge in lieu of the prior authorization process.
Taking the wrong medication can lead to serious complications, including death. In order to minimize medication errors physician, pharmacist, and patient must each be vigilant. It is the patient's responsibility to examine any medication purchased from a pharmacy at the time of purchase. If you are not sure it is the medication you expect, ask your pharmacist. Dr. Edwards will not reimburse you for purchasing the wrong medication even if he ordered it.
Psychiatrists have more training, skill and other qualifications in prescribing medication for mental disorders than other providers. If another provider wants to prescribe medication or other treatment for your psychiatric condition, ask them to discuss this with Dr. Edwards. Patients who conceal medications prescribed by other providers may be discharged.


IF YOU ARE PROVIDED PSYCHOTHERAPY BY ANOTHER PROFESSIONAL
Many non-psychiatrists provide psychotherapy. Dr. Edwards assumes no responsibility for psychotherapy provided elsewhere, and he is unable to assess the psychotherapist's credentials, qualifications, methods, or ethical standing. He will expect you to authorize the psychotherapist to keep him apprised of significant changes in your condition or treatment and to allow Dr. Edwards to communicate with the psychotherapist.


YOUR FAMILY
Dr. Edwards welcomes involvement of family in your treatment. As long as the identified patient is in agreement, it is not necessary to ask permission of or warn Dr. Edwards before a family member attends an office visit. Dr. Edwards may decline to have contact with family members without the identified patient's signed authorization. Dr. Edwards may not ask for express written authorization if family members are present during an office visit. Dr. Edwards asks that family members refrain from contacting him by telephone without the identified patient's knowledge. Likewise, please do not ask Dr. Edwards to schedule a visit without the identified patient present.

EMERGENCIES
Dr. Edwards does not provide emergency services. If you think you need emergency medical attention please call 911, go to the nearest hospital emergency room, or call the Crisis Clinic or Designated Mental Health Professional. (Check your local directory for the correct phone numbers.)


OFFICE HOURS
By appointment only; closed on weekends.


LATENESS, CANCELLATION AND BROKEN APPOINTMENTS
Dr. Edwards tries to start all appointments on time. Dr. Edwards charges $50.00 for missed appointments. Insurance does not reimburse for broken appointments. If you need to cancel or move an appointment, please call or text us as soon as you can so another patient can use the appointment time. To avoid the missed appointment charge, even for video-conference encounters, you must contact Dr. Edwards before the scheduled time of the appointment or reschedule the same day.


WHEN DR. EDWARDS IS NOT AVAILABLE
Dr. Edwards may arrange for another psychiatrist to cover for him when he is not available. Please respect that another physician may have different policies and may not be available for a face to face visit. Dr. Edwards may arrange video-conference or other contact instead. Dr. Edwards may not inform you of a planned absence ahead of time.


STOPPING TREATMENT
Patients may decide to stop treatment altogether or to seek treatment with a different psychiatrist. Dr. Edwards may encourage you to do so if you do not appear to be benefiting from treatment or if he believes your condition requires a different provider or setting. Like most important decisions regarding relationships, this one is best made after discussion and input from patient and physician. The success of any physician patient relationship depends greatly on indefinable qualities we sometimes refer to as "chemistry." Because of this Dr. Edwards wants you to feel free to discuss with him your interest in changing to a different physician. He may be able to assist in finding the best provider for your particular needs, but if you want to seek treatment with someone who uses a substantially different approach, you may do better to find someone through your own resources.
Dr. Edwards may find it necessary to end your treatment without your agreement. For example, this may be done if you choose not to comply with treatment recommendations to such an extent that the treatment is ineffective. Psychiatric services may also be stopped for non-payment of fees. Under certain circumstances Dr. Edwards will remain responsible for your care for up to thirty days after he has advised you that he will no longer provide care. This may or may not include providing continued medication refills at Dr. Edwards discretion.


INSURANCE
Dr. Edwards is "out of network" for all insurance companies. The patient is responsible for securing reimbursement from their health insurance plan for services rendered by Dr. Edwards. Insurance coverage for mental illness varies from generous to none at all. Different companies may have different criteria or definitions for determining what is or is not reimbursable. Most companies cover only what they consider "medically necessary". The criteria for medical necessity differ from company to company. Services provided by Dr. Edwards may not be considered medically necessary by the company or case reviewer. This may mean that the patient's symptoms do not interfere with social or occupational functioning or that the treatment has returned the patient to adequate functioning. If the patient wishes to continue in treatment anyway, it may be without any reimbursement by the insurer. Please do not ask Dr. Edwards to misrepresent diagnosis or level of functioning in order to obtain disability or health insurance benefits. Since Dr. Edwards does not accept payment from anyone other than patients he does not provide his tax ID number to insurance companies. If you have applied for or enrolled in Medicare Part B Dr. Edwards will not accept you as a patient.


MEDICAL RECORDS & CONFIDENTIALITY
We keep a record of the health care services we provide you. You may ask us to see and copy that record. You may also ask us to correct that record. We may deny these requests under certain circumstances. We will not disclose your record to others unless you direct us to do so or unless the law authorizes or compels us to do so. Dr. Edwards may require that you sign an authorization for release of information if you want him to provide information to others, including family members.
Dr. Edwards may be required by law to report suspected child abuse. He may be required by law to provide information to others in order to protect someone you threaten to harm. He may be required by law to provide information from your record if ordered to do so by the courts.


ADMISSION/INCARCERATION
For patients admitted to inpatient psychiatric units or hospitals, addiction rehabilitation facilities, or those incarcerated in jail, the facility physician must make a reasonable attempt to contact Dr. Edwards to coordinate your care and determine whether your best interests are served by returning to my practice after discharge or release. The patient is entitled to insist on such contact. Without such contact your care will have been indefinitely transferred to the inpatient physician. The inpatient physician ultimately assumes responsibility for arranging optimal and appropriate aftercare for you which may not include return to Dr. Edwards’ practice.