Page 46 - Athletic Health Handbook
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to team physicians, are the privacy duties with respect to this information. from the team coverage, evaluates
regulations, which establish standards Additionally, the covered physician a professional athlete in his or her
to protect the privacy of oral and must implement policies and proce- private office and bills for these serv-
written health information collected dures for using and disclosing patients’ ices, HIPAA rules will likely apply.
or maintained by health care providers medical information. Perhaps most
subject to HIPAA. important, and of most concern to Team Physicians Employed
team physicians, signed authorization by College or University
These privacy regulations govern has to be obtained in most cases from Student Health Clinics
the privacy of Protected Health Infor- the patient for any uses and disclosures
mation (PHI), which is, basically, any that fall outside of treatment, payment, On-field medical coverage, training
information health care providers and health care operation activities. room encounters, and interactions
collect and maintain on patients. with coaches and media are just some
Exempted from the definition of PHI Since the onset of HIPAA and its of the particular scenarios encountered
are (1) “Education records” covered privacy regulations, there has been during the regular course of a team
by and as defined in the Family much angst among high school, physician’s day at a major college
Educational Rights and Privacy Act collegiate, and professional coaches; or university. Some team physicians
(FERPA) and (2) “Treatment records” trainers; and team physicians relating have part of their practice within the
of students 18 years of age or older to the uncertainty in the application student health center. In connection
that are made and maintained by the of HIPAA to their everyday activi- with these activities, medical infor-
student’s treating physician or other ties, namely treating and sharing mation concerning the student athlete
medical professional and are available medical information concerning is generally freely shared between the
only to that physician or professional. their athletes. The reality is that, team physician, trainer, and coaches.
FERPA applies to all educational depending on the physician’s relation- FERPA allows certain information
institutions, public and private, that ship with the team, the interpreta- to be released without consent or
receive federal funds under any tion of the applicability of HIPAA authorization to other school officials
program. For some team physicians, may vary. Currently, there is no that have a legitimate educational
these exceptions will become of great jurisprudence that tells us with interest in the information. The
importance when determining certainty how the HIPAA regulations regular loop of information, between
whether and how a student athlete’s will be interpreted if problems occur the physician, trainer, and coaches,
health information can be shared with in these situations. However, it may appears to be considered an accept-
other individuals such as parents, be possible to get an idea how the able sharing of information under
coaches, trainers, and the media. HIPAA regulations may impact the FERPA without consent from the
physicians in these situations. This student athlete. All parties concerned
Many team physicians have already article attempts to describe some arguably have legitimate educational
become familiar with the basic HIPAA possible scenarios in this regard. interests, as they are concerned with
guidelines that affect their practice in the performance of the student
the office and hospital. Every physician Team Physicians for athlete. In contrast, a disclosure
who bills, receives payments, transmits Professional Athletes and Teams to the media or other outside party
claims to a health plan, and does this seems to require a signed consent
in some type of electronic form is The coverage of professional sports by the student athlete, as there is no
considered a Covered Entity (CE) teams is a unique situation. Although exception under FERPA allowing
under the HIPAA regulations — this final legal opinions are not yet for this type of disclosure.
article will refer to these physicians as available, it looks like the health
“covered physicians.” These covered information obtained in the care of Team Physicians Whose
physicians are required to implement professional athletes may be consid- Primary Practice Is Not Within
many new policies and procedures ered part of their employment record a Student Health Clinic
addressing the privacy of PHI. The and excepted from the definition of
Notice of Privacy Practices (NPP), PHI. If so, this would mean that the The laws governing team physicians
required to be distributed by covered HIPAA privacy regulations would who are not employed by a university-
physicians, explains all of the patients’ not apply to these records and health run student health clinic may not be
rights, gives the patient adequate information about the player could be FERPA, but HIPAA. The simple fact
notice of the privacy practices of the shared with coaches and team owners. that these physicians are not directly
physician, and outlines the physician’s Of course, if a physician, independent employed by the college or university’s

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