[ Monday, February 15, 2010 ]


Illinois school dental records: A question from the audience:
Here in Illinois, the public schools require all students in 2nd grade (and a
couple others) to furnish proof of dental checkups, along with some diagnosis
information on a form to be signed by the dentist. This bugs the
crap out of me -- it's none of their damn business! My question to you is,
can the dentist provide this information to the school district absent my
consent? If not, then it seems to me that the IL legislature is
conditioning attendance at public schools with giving up your rights under
federal law. Does this sound reasonable?

Can they do it, and is it reasonable, aren't exactly the same question. HIPAA allows disclosures of PHI without consent or authorization to the extent required by state law. It's not uncommon for schools to condition enrollment on the student having current vaccinations. There's clearly a public health connection there, that I don't really see with dental checkups (one kid won't catch a cavity from another, while she may catch TB). However, it seems that the state could argue some compelling interest for the dental record requirement, and the requirement would be legally (and Constitutionally) valid.

Whether the dentist can directly provide the information, rather than requiring the parents to provide it or not enroll their child in school, depends on how the law is drafted. But if the law required dentists to report, I believe it would pass HIPAA muster.

Jeff [11:25 AM]

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