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Monday, November 9, 2015

When Students Become Patients, Privacy Suffers

By Charles Ornstein
Originally published October 23, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

Yale Health’s website informs parents that they cannot access their child’s health information without a signed written consent form. Andrea said she does not recall signing that document. When she recently asked to see any such form, she said, she was told by the counseling center’s chief that there was none. “Most of what happened while I was in the hospital happened without my knowing it,” she said. “I got an update every day or two about where my life was going.”

Andrea’s case is a vivid demonstration of how weaknesses in state and federal laws — and the often-conflicting motives of students, parents, and college officials — have left patient privacy vulnerable when students receive medical treatment on campus.

Universities walk a fine line when providing that treatment or mental-health services to students. If campus officials don’t know what’s going on or disclose too little, they risk being blamed if a student harms himself, herself, or others. If they pry too deeply, they may be accused of invading privacy, thereby discouraging students from seeking treatment.

The entire article is here.