Have you been asked by special education personnel to sign a consent form for release of your child’s medical records? Have you been told, that your child with autism or an emotional disorder cannot return to school, unless you sign a medical consent form? This article will discuss, whether parents must sign consent for release of medical records, to school personnel.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is silent, on parents being required to sign consent, for release of medical records. But just because IDEA is silent, does not mean that special education personnel have the right to require release of medical records. Medical records are considered private, and school personnel do not have any right to these records, unless you give them informed consent.
Many parents have trustingly released medical records, only to have school personnel, use these records against them or their child. Remember that some Doctors and nurses may not understand special education, and may say things that may be misinterpreted by school officials.
For Example: A 16 year old young man with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is in the Emergency room, because of behavioral difficulties (many children with TBI, due to there brain injuries have behavioral outbursts). He is interviewed in the Emergency room, by a doctor that is not well trained in people with TBI. The young man tells him, that he is in the hospital because he brought a gun to school. The doctor who has already spoke to the young man’s mother, knows that this is not true. Yet the Doctor still included this statement, in a medical record of the hospital visit.
The school district asked the mother to sign a blanket medical release form, which she did. (the mother did not understand that she had the right to refuse). Later when special education personnel kicked the young man out of school, and wanted to place him in an extremely restrictive residential placement, the mother found out about the hospital report. She was shocked and surprised that the statement was in the record. She was never asked by the Doctor if this statement was true or not. This record almost cost her son, his ability to live at home, though I was able to prove that it never happened.
At the end of the due process hearing, I asked the mother, what the one thing that I had taught her and she said: Do not give consent for release of medical records. Yah! She learned the right lesson!
If you are asked for copies of your child’s medical records, ask the special education personnel what authority they are basing their rights to medical records on (there is none). Also under HIPPA your child has the right to keep their medical records private.
If there is a specific record that school personnel want, and you are not opposed, this is how you should go about releasing the record. Tell the special education personnel that you will think about it, then get a copy of the record that they are interested in. When you get the record read it cover to cover. If you think, that the record contains important information, that would help your child and not hurt them, then you can consider giving them a copy of the record.
Under no circumstances should you give school personnel the right to blanket medical records. In my opinion, some special education personnel ask for these medical records, because they are looking for information to use against the child, or the parents.
By understanding the release of medical records, you will be able to protect your child’s privacy, and keep school personnel from using them against your child. Please remember your child is depending on you!