Q&A: Getting proof of illness from a student health center
Q: I am a college student who had to miss three days of classes because I was ill. I went to the campus health center, and they diagnosed me and prescribed me antibiotics. One of my professors said the absences would only be excused if the doctor provided a note explaining that I was too ill to attend class. When I asked the health center for a note, they said it would be a HIPAA violation to provide any details about my illness. Were they right?
A: No, it would not be a HIPAA violation for the health center to provide a written excuse. The excuse should not include any information about your diagnoses, but a general note like the following would be acceptable:
“This confirms that Sally Jones was treated at the ABC Health Center on 1/2/19. Due to her illness, she was instructed to stay home for three days and should be excused from any classes she missed during this time period.”
Editor’s note: Question answered by Mary Brandt, MBA, RHIA, CHE, CHPS. Brandt is a healthcare consultant specializing in healthcare regulatory compliance and operations improvement. She is also an advisory board member for BOH. This information does not constitute legal advice. Consult legal counsel for answers to specific privacy and security questions. Opinions expressed are those of the author and do not represent HCPro or ACDIS. Email your HIPAA questions to Associate Editor Heidi Samuelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.