Federal Laws Pertaining to Confidentiality
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
FERPA protects the privacy of student education records. The student health record is included in the definition of an education record. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.
U.S. Department of Education resources
FERPA General Guidance for Students
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
Effective January 25, 2013, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published modifications to the HIPAA rules. These rules include clarification regarding the disclosure of immunization records between medical providers and schools. The health care provider may disclose proof of immunization to a school as long as they have obtained and documented the agreement from either a parent/guardian for unemancipated students or the student, if an adult or emancipated minor. This agreement may be oral or in writing but must be documented by the health care provider. Authorization is not required for the use of an immunization registry.
HIPAA and student immunizations
Department of Health and Human Services Resources on HIPAA
Joint Guidance on the Application of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) To Student Health Records This document explains the relationship between FERPA and HIPAA. The question most frequently asked pertains to disclosure by a health care provider of protected health information about a student to a school nurse or physician. This is addressed by question #6 in the document.
The answer is yes. The HIPAA Privacy Rule allows covered health care providers to disclose PHI about students to school nurses, physicians, or other health care providers for treatment purposes, without the authorization of the student or student's parent. For example, a student's primary care physician may discuss the student's medication and other health care needs with a school nurse who will administer the student's medication and provide care to the student while the student is at school.
Updated: April 14, 2015