State law and professional standards require that we maintain patient records, as do other health practitioners. Patient records are kept within CAPS' secure data system and records room; these are not part of your educational records or part of any University data system.
All patient information is confidential, including the fact that you are participating in therapy at CAPS. This means that under ordinary circumstances, no protected information will be revealed to anyone outside of CAPS without your written permission.
Consistent with the law and professional ethics, there are emergency and other special circumstances when CAPS and/or your therapist may be required to disclose information, including:
- State law requires licensed health professionals to report suspicion or knowledge of abuse, neglect and/or exploitation of children (under 18 years)and vulnerable adults.
- If you become a danger to yourself or another person, CAPS may need to take steps to decrease the danger and prevent harm, including the disclosure of confidential information; if you are a threat to an identifiable victim, we may be required to notify the police and the person at risk of harm.
- If a court orders CAPS to reveal confidential patient information.
- If a student who is gravely disabled due to mental illness/disability or dangerous to self or others, refuses voluntary treatment, information may be released to a County-Designated Mental Health Professional and hospital emergency room personnel.
- If your therapist is your primary health provider and you disclose that you are HIV positive, either you or your therapist must disclose the identities of any IV drug-using/sexual partners to the state Department of Health.
To protect your records at CAPS and your other health records, we recommend that you carefully read any releases or authorization forms that you are asked to sign while applying for employment, for participation in service programs, and for health and life insurance.
Applications for federal jobs requiring security clearance, for postal service positions and for some other federal agencies, may include a comprehensive authorization to release information, including disclosure of your mental health records.
Service programs such as the Peace Corp may ask you to sign an authorization for release of medical and mental health records before you are accepted into the program. Law students should note that in some states the application to take the bar exam asks about treatment for psychiatric and psychological conditions. In a few states, medical boards request this information as well.
On occasion, your therapist may consult with other professionals within CAPS in order to provide the best possible care.