President announces new interim confidential records policy

UO President Michael Schill has announced a new policy that puts in place additional safeguards on confidential records while work continues on a permanent policy.

The full text of an Oct. 1 memo from Provost Scott Coltrane to members of a confidentiality committee follows:

I’m writing today to inform you that President Schill, in consultation with incoming Vice President and General Counsel Kevin Reed, has implemented an interim policy regarding student confidentiality of medical and psychological records. The interim policy will serve as a safeguard for University of Oregon students as we continue to work toward adopting permanent policies and practices pertaining to the use and disclosure of student health and counseling records. A copy of the interim policy is available at

Thanks to the committee’s work, the university has decided to adopt an enhanced version of your consensus recommendation as the temporary policy. The consensus recommendation was enhanced to provide even more protection of a student’s records than the guidance provided by the Department of Education in their August 18, 2015, Dear Colleague Letter to institutions of higher education on protecting student medical records.

Specifically, the interim policy adopted today commits the university to use a subpoena whenever possible to access records when a client or patient brings an action against the University, even if the matter is a claim involving the provision of health care and/or survivor’s services. It also requires the university to notify students and give them an opportunity to object to accessing the records if it is not possible to issue a subpoena. The Department of Education guidance allows institutions to access health records without a subpoena (or consent) if the litigation involves medical malpractice.

You’ll also notice that the interim policy does not include the recommendation to create a standing confidentiality review committee, which is valuable guidance but will be addressed separately.

I recognize that there are differing views on details within the recommendation that the committee has provided. Kevin Reed officially starts at the University next week, and he will be taking the lead on working with campus constituents and the UO’s policy proposal process to finalize the university’s permanent policy on the confidentiality of student medical records.

Thank you for your time and your work around this important issue.