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High School and HIPAA

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by mocheeks10, Aug 17, 2012.

  1. mocheeks10

    mocheeks10 Member

    There have been instances in recent years where high school football coaches in our area have not been forthcoming about players' injuries, citing HIPAA regulations. Do such laws apply to high school sports, or is this just a case of coaches finding some other reason to be less than candid?
  2. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    I think it's a little of both. Some coaches -- especially those that are young or new in their jobs -- probably get the "don't violate HIPAA" class at the beginning of the year, don't want to ruffle feathers with their administrators, and try to steer clear. Some are just paranoid morons who think the opposing coaches are waiting at the loading dock for the newspaper to see who's hurt and who's not.
    Meanwhile, everyone saw Johnny Utah get his knee folded 90 degrees the wrong way last week, he's been hobbling around on crutches since then, and has told everyone in his biology and algebra classes that he has a torn ACL with surgery scheduled for next Tuesday.

    It seems like it was a bigger issue when HIPAA first came down. Now, I think most coaches (at least in our area) realize for most sports-related injuries they can be fairly vague and still get the point across. If they say "He tweaked his knee. He'll be out a few weeks," or "He hurt his knee. Torn ACL. He won't be back this season," that usually suffices.
    If, god forbid, a kid has cancer or a serious illness they can always say, "I'd rather you talk to him or his parents about that."
  3. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member

    Journalists should learn what HIPPA covers, does not cover, and what their respective state and state athletic association can or can't say.

    Coaches and administrators can try to hide behind "I can't discuss that because of" and figure Podunk reporter won't challenge anything. Know what you can push for and ask about.
  4. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    Of course, at that point most of them will respond, "Well, I'm not telling you either way." We really don't have the right to know about a 16-year-old defensive tackle's knee. It's up to coaches, players and parents to volunteer that information.
  5. boundforboston

    boundforboston Well-Known Member

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but it appears the coach and administrators can't hide behind HIPAA for high school players.

    "The Privacy Rule, as well as all the Administrative Simplification rules, apply to health plans, health care clearinghouses, and to any health care provider who transmits health information in electronic form in connection with transactions for which the Secretary of HHS has adopted standards under HIPAA (the “covered entities”). For help in determining whether you are covered, use CMS's decision tool."
    ~The coach/administrators don't provide the health care.
  6. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    Yes, it has nothing to do with coaches and players.
  7. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    Sure, anyone can refuse to answer a question. But a reporter can not be penalized for asking the question or obtaining the information by some other means. That's been going on for years.
  8. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    Coaches are not covered by HIPAA. Most trainers are.
    I'm planning on doing a story on a local girl who got her face smashed in by a field hockey stick. The trainer said the only way she can talk about what she did is if I get a letter from the girls parents that says the trainer can discuss the on-field treatment of the injury.
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think because HS kids are, for the most part, minors, is what coaches can use as an excuse.
  9. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    Ask the player, in the presence of their parents.

    Whatever they themselves elect to tell you is utterly fair game.
  10. SportsGuyBCK

    SportsGuyBCK Active Member

    That's why players have to sign a HIPAA waiver form ... if they didn't, the trainer (and how they fall under HIPAA is still subject of debate, according to two online articles I've read on the subject) couldn't even discuss the issue with the coaches ...
  11. turski7

    turski7 Member

    When a coach tells me about an injury off the record, I just go to the player. The player responds and there is no issue with HIPAA. Many times the coaches tell me about an injury on the record and I have yet to encounter an issue with HIPAA from the school or district.
  12. Cosmo

    Cosmo Well-Known Member

    Shit. I have college coaches on my beat trying to hide behind HIPAA. Read Coastal Carolina's game notes. They mention they're bound by HIPAA not to say anything specific about injuries. Just not true.
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