Do teachers have access to student medical records?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Chrissie31, Feb 12, 2016.

  1. Chrissie31

    Chrissie31 Guest

    Feb 12, 2016

    Hi, I am not a teacher but I'm a high school student with a question. I have been really struggling with mental illness, depression, and other issues, so I have been taking online classes. In order to show proof that I had a reason for not completing school work for a time when I was not completing work, we had to provide the school with notation from a doctor as well as records from a stay at a psychiatric hospital. I thought that just the top level school people who needed to see that for proof would have access to it. However, now from emails I have received from other teachers, it seems like they all know about it. Is this legal? To me it seems like this should be privileged information. I didn't want anyone to know about it who didn't have to, and them having intimate details of what I have been dealing with seems wrong.
    Thanks.
     
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  3. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Cohort

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    Feb 12, 2016

    Teachers do not have access to students medical records, however they may be privy to certain details if it's necessary for the teacher to know. For instance, I know all of my students' health information(well anything relevant to my teaching and classroom environment) including allergies and asthma so I can keep certain substances out of my classroom (i.e. Nuts) and ensure the safety of the particular students. I have even been trained to use an epi-pen and know which students have one. In the past, I have been made aware of when students were admitted to any hospital or facility but not the details why so that I can send work (through the office not directly) and that I am aware of why my student is no longer in my classroom and to be sensitive to deadlines, accommodations and modifications, etc. and to just sensitive of the students' needs for when they come back to the classroom.
     
  4. Rox

    Rox Cohort

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    Feb 12, 2016

    Because I teach special education, if the student has an IEP, I can access some of their medical information. I don't believe general education teachers have the same amount of access, unless it is on a "need to know basis". FERPA laws prevent sharing this information unless it is necessary for the person to know. Sometimes parents sign a waiver allowing the school more flexibility in sharing this information. If you feel that your school may have shared information they should not have, you can bring it to the attention of your principal. They can include an extra note in your file for people to be extra cautious to who should be privy to your information. One thing does seem odd from your post. You had to provide a Doctor's note with information about your medical situation? In most cases a Doctor's note stating "Student was seen on 1/1/11 to 1/10/11" should be sufficient. They could also include information about activities you are allowed to participate in (PE, for example). That is all the school needs to know, unless there is suspicion.
     
  5. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Feb 12, 2016

    Teachers do not have access to your medical records. They may have access to information from medical professionals. A note from your doctor or a statement from a hospital are not medical records. If a student is in the hospital for depression I may or may not have access to that information. I may just be told to provide make up work for X number of days. If a student has an IEP, I have full access to everything that led to the IEP. Special education teachers keep the file but I can request to see it at any time. Same thing with 504s. So if you get a 504 stating that you need extended time on assignments and the disability lists depression and/or anxiety, I will have that information.

    For the record, doctors and hospitals do not determine how educators teach children. They can make suggestions, but the school decides how to move forward with that student.
     
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  6. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Feb 13, 2016

    At the most, the teachers should just want to see a note saying "XXX was under my care from DATE to DATE and was unable to attend school."
     
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  7. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Feb 13, 2016

    More information helps me plan better. I had a student who was struggling with depression so the way I handled getting her caught up is different than a student who was out with the flu for a few days. My student with the flu felt a lot better, while my student with depression was still hurting at times.
    It also helps put actions into perspective. I just learned a student who always seems angry has a close relative who is likely going to die soon. I understand more now why he's so angry.
    If you don't want people to know, I would talk to the guidance counselor about it. Ultimately, I'm sure your teachers are just trying to help as best as they can.
     
  8. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Feb 13, 2016

    As an online teacher, I can tell you that I ONLY find out about a student's medical conditions if I'm told. If you have a 504 Plan that shows you require extra time or a small group on assignments due to anxiety or any other reason, then that would be a record I would have. I normally wouldn't see the medical documentation itself unless a parent gave it to me.

    That being said, students often make the decision to tell me themselves when they have an illness (physical, mental, or both). It helps me to understand their individual needs so I can accommodate them. The best part of online education is that teacher are able to do things for one student without drawing attention and demands for the same treatment.
     
  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Feb 14, 2016

    Such a note wouldn't necessarily excuse someone from missed work.
     
  10. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I have access to student cum folders, and any health information shared with the school is in the cum folders.
     
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  11. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Feb 15, 2016

    I know - that would be up to administration.
     
  12. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Feb 15, 2016

    This applies to me too.
     
  13. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Feb 15, 2016

    I have access to any information that parents have provided to the school.
     
  14. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    I've had parents or students share details with me. In some cases, a counselor has, but with permission. In other cases, an administor will request that I work with a student and I am not given details.

    If you feel that your personal information was divulged inappropriately, I would definitely speak to somebody in authority about that.
     
  15. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Feb 16, 2016

    Admin generally doesn't get involved with homework issues. Seems like this would be more appropriately channeled through guidance. So if a student requests to be medically excused from class/homework, the teachers of said student are likely to receive more information than "xxx was under my care from date to date and was unable to attend school." Most teachers with whom I work would be understanding, accommodating and empathetic towards a student's needs if informed...and I'm wondering if the emails and communications the OP is receiving are in that vein...
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2016
  16. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Feb 17, 2016

    Because I work with students similar to OP, I think that part of the problem is that a student can only miss so much work before it crosses over into loss of credit. Additionally, OP doesn't state whether or not there is an IEP involved, which may well be the case. Students classified EBD would almost certainly have treatment notes, especially if enough school has been missed that graduation may be in jeopardy. The student may have also shared much of their own story through what was shared with fellow friends and students. Social media can make something private into something public, and most people don't seem to think twice about it until it happens to them.

    Because of the question about the hospital stay, that sounds very much like a CST, social worker, therapist, etc., is involved. Once these things are documented to provide the required services, any SPED teachers involved with the student is actually required to read at least part of the file, to assure adequate understanding of the needs and any differentiation required by law.

    OP, you don't mention your age, but you should educate yourself about your rights and responsibilities, especially as you approach the age of 18, since it would then be your signature on these types of documents. I agree that the parents or guardians may have allowed access to the IEP and supporting documents in an attempt to get you the best possible services during a time of great need. If in doubt, speak to the CST and evaluate the process. I suggest a neutral and open dialog free of blame - people respond better, and you may come closer to truly understanding how this process has worked for you.

    Best of luck - congrats on dealing with turmoil and personal issues by asking questions instead of simply assigning blame. Your over all mental health is so important, and it sounds like you are working very hard to get through trying times.
     

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