Q&A: HIPAA and high school student-athletes


From The Columbia City Post & Mail:

Q: Does HIPAA prevent the newspaper from reporting on the injuries of high school students? I’m wondering about the issue of sports injuries of high school student-athletes. How specific can we be? The impact an injury has on a team would seem to be fair game. 

A: The fact that someone is injured doesn’t trigger any HIPAA restrictions. HIPAA restricts the release of information by a medical provider who bills electronically.

So the QB’s doctor might not be able to talk about the student’s injury without the family’s permission, but any information the family gives to others, such as the coach, is not subject to HIPAA.

A coach, athletic director, principal, family, etc., can be as specific as they want to be about the extent of an injury, from general – broken leg – to specific – compound fracture of the tibia in the right leg just above the knee.

When people squawk about HIPAA, ask them if they are medical providers who bill electronically. If they say no, they shouldn’t be concerned about HIPAA.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.