Privacy & Confidentiality of Medical Information

The Student Health Center (SHC) is committed to maintaining patient privacy and confidentiality. Unless required by law, subpoena, court order, or as medically necessary to other involved healthcare professionals (e.g. sending SHC X-ray images to consulting radiologists for interpretation) the SHC doesn’t release individual medical information without the formal consent of the patient. 

The Student Health Center doesn’t share medical information with family members, faculty, university administrators or others who aren’t healthcare professionals involved in the patient’s care without patient authorization. The SHC may leave appointment reminder and similar messages (but not actual medical information) on your voice mail unless you specifically request that we not do so.   In rare circumstances and only as allowed by law, the SHC may share medical information without patient authorization if the treating clinician determines that not doing so would present significant danger to the patient or to others.

In accordance with privacy laws and ethical practice, the SHC restricts access to individual medical information within the SHC to staff who are involved in the provision of the patient’s medical care on a minimum necessary - need to know basis.  Similarly, the SHC might share medical information with a hospital emergency room or another physician when we refer the patient for medical care.

The SHC doesn’t typically release medical records sent to us from other medical providers.  Patients should direct their requests for the release of such information to the physician or healthcare entity that provided the medical care that created the information the patient wants released.

The patient’s informed consent to release medical information is legally limited to circumstances that have already taken place. Blanket consent can’t be given in advance for circumstances that have not yet happened. A patient may terminate consent to release medical information at any time - in writing.  It’s not possible for this to apply to records that have already been released as authorized.  The SHC doesn’t bill third parties, so information is not released for this purpose, although information related to workers compensation may be released to the extent required by state law. 

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy rules require health care providers to define and communicate the methods used to safeguard private medical information.  The legal department of the California State University System has determined that HIPAA procedures don’t apply to SSU Student Health Center services as currently provided, but other more stringent state and federal privacy laws do apply, and the SHC follows these regulations as well as many HIPAA based privacy and security safeguards.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the confidentiality of your educational records on campus.  Under FERPA, California medical privacy laws apply to information and records the SHC develops and maintains for treatment purposes. However, under FERPA, medical records that a student authorizes to have released to campus entities outside the SHC for non-treatment purposes become the responsibility of the recipient and are protected by FERPA only as educational but not medical treatment records.  In this instance, the confidentiality protections under FERPA, though stringent, could allow further access to campus entities that are not a student’s medical or mental health providers.

If you have questions, please contact us at 707 664-2921.