Tuesday, 10 March 2015

University violates rape victim’s medical privacy (legally)

Rebecca Watson talks about how a reasonable expectation of privacy turned out to be false.


The university forced a rape victim’s doctors to release her therapy records without her consent.  Rebecca explains that in the US, if a student receives medical treatment through the university and on campus, her medical records are considered academic records rather than medical ones and therefore don’t have the same privacy protection medical records from other providers enjoy. In this case, the doctors fought the university’s demands that they release the victim’s records, but eventually had to comply.

This is a violation both of privacy and of reasonable expectation of privacy.  It’s also a devious and pernicious little loophole since many students couldn’t afford medical care from providers outside the university, even if they knew about the loophole in the first place. 

I’m willing to bet that the doctors didn’t know about this loophole either.  Let’s hope that all campus doctors learn about this case so they can at least warn students when they sign up and again when they make an appointment.

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