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Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

Summary: Effective April 14 2003 it will no longer be permissible for the staff of the Division of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics (DRIA) to receive or share information pertaining to a student-athlete's health without the permission of the student-athlete. Additionally, a student-athlete will be required to sign a document allowing the use and disclosure of health information between his or her medical practitioner and the appropriate DRIA staff member.

HIPAA Privacy Rule. Congress has included in the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) provisions for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to promulgate regulations on the privacy and security of personally identifiable health information. The HIPAA Privacy Rule is scheduled to become effective April 14, 2003.

The Privacy Rule is applicable to Penn's athletics programs and prevents the disclosure of medical information about athletes without their written consent. The Privacy Rule applies to the use and disclosure of protected health information by health-care providers. For sports teams, this will generally be athletic trainers and sports physicians who bill for their services.

The Privacy Rule puts control of medical information in the hands of the student-athlete (patient), which means that the athlete controls whether his or her information may be released to the press or even to coaches.

Prior to the April 14 effective date all Penn student-athletes will be asked to sign a release form that shall be designed to comply with the new regulation and allow college coaches, athletic trainers and team physicians to continue to use and disclose medical information about athletes as they have in the past. The release form currently in draft is being circulated for comment and should be ready for student-athletes by mid-March.

Once signed the original will be retained by Head Trainer with a copy to be kept on file in the student-athlete's eligibility folder, a copy is also to be given to the student-athlete. As per the Privacy Rule, the student-athlete may revoke his or her written authorization at any time.