I’ve been lurking a bit but not posting, so I thought I’d share a bit of what I’m doing before I get to my question.
I’ve applied to, and been accepted to, a local private university’s post-bac pre-med program, and start classes in the fall. (Yay!) I absolutely can’t wait. I’ve also managed (through some networking) to get a volunteer research lab position for the summer, which will be great experience for me, since my professional background is in journalism/publishing, not science. So far I’ve learned a good bit about cell culture, and will actually be in charge of taking care of several flasks of fibroblasts / epithelial cells (changing their media, etc.) while my supervisor (a post-doc) is away next week … wish me luck! I just hope I don’t kill them.
So … my question. Before I start classes in August, I have to submit my health history. I’m fine with submitting my immunization history - I understand that is for health reasons, and have no problem with that (I just gotta track all that info down; I think my mom’s got all that stuff buried in a mound of papers somewhere in her house).
But the school also wants a detailed medical history (hospitalizations, medications, etc.). I won’t go into detail, but I have some health issues that I’m wary of disclosing. They’re not ones that would affect the student population - an infectious disease, for example. And they wouldn’t affect my studies, nor my practice of medicine (in the future).
But if I do include that information, I don’t know what happens to it once it’s disclosed to the university (for example, who has access to it). And I’m afraid it will be used against me in some way, i.e., as discrimination. Not overtly, necessarily, but possibly in some subtle way. I’m probably overreacting, but I’ve dealt with stigma related to this before, and I don’t want it affecting my educational aspirations.
I’d like to just leave a bunch of boxes blank on the health history form, but I don’t want to be dishonest (especially when I’m signing a piece of paper saying I’ve been as complete and thorough as possible). On the other hand, if the school doesn’t have a right to require the information, I don’t want to disclose it.
I am DEFINITELY seeking legal counsel on this, so I’m not trying to get an “official” answer or legal advice here on the OPM Board, just wondered if anyone else has dealt with a similar situation or thought about this.
- terra_incognita Said:
But if I do include that information, I don’t know what happens to it once it’s disclosed to the university (for example, who has access to it). And I’m afraid it will be used against me in some way, i.e., as discrimination. Not overtly, necessarily, but possibly in some subtle way. I’m probably overreacting, but I’ve dealt with stigma related to this before, and I don’t want it affecting my educational aspirations....
No personal experience but just some observations -
Typically, requests for personal, especially health, information must be accompanied by a statement of intended use and limitations on the use of that information.
Also, any information you disclose to the University must be covered by HIPPA and you should verify this.
Finally, any use of your health information in making professional decisions about you is discriminatory but you touched upon an interesting point - you can be discriminated against using knowledge of your health history but it could be made to sound as if its some other issue(s), i.e. it could be subtle.
Legal counsel is fine but keep in mind that once you go down that route and the University finds out about it, it appears as if you are combative and that is just as noxious in killing one's academic/professional endeavors as discrimination.
I agree with the point that you should (and probably did or will) receive, in writing, information on who will have access to the information, how it will be used, etc.
In many programs, the information goes to student health, and is not seen by or accessible to the program or university staff outside of the student health center. It’s asked for so that they have a complete health history on you because they are going figuring to be responsible for your medical care while you are there (especially if the program requires you to purchase student health insurance).
BUT, would definately make a call, to wherever you are directed to send the form, asking the question “how will my protected medical information be used?” - they then must provide you with the information, in writing if requested.
Those are my thoughts on the question - YMMV.