Confidentiality & Medical Excuses


The Student Health Center is dedicated to providing quality care in a private and confidential setting. HIPAA is a federal law that carefully protects private health information. Both HIPAA and the ethics of the physician/patient relationship guard each student’s privacy. No private health information can be given to Deans, professors, parents, significant others, friends, or other health providers without the explicit written consent of the student.

Please download the Authorization for Release of Information from VUMC form that must be completed for Student Health to discuss your health history with any other person. Please download the Authorization for Release of Medical Information to VUMC Form to request medical information be sent to our clinic (e.g., old records, immunization records). The student patient also has the right to revoke communication at any time. To do so, please download the Revocation of Authorization form. After filling out any of these forms, they should be brought to the SHC so they can become part of your record.

HIPAA does have a clause that allows for notification of next of kin in cases of emergency or life-threatening situations.

Medical Excuse Policy

The Student Health Center does not provide excuses for everyday illnesses (such as colds) that may lead to missed classes or incomplete assignments. Vanderbilt University expects that students are honest with their professors regarding their ability to complete work, and professors are expected to work with students on these issues. Student Health can provide students with cards documenting a visit to the Student Health Center, but details of minor illnesses are not provided to professors routinely. The student’s right to privacy is one important issue that guides this policy. In addition, since there is a great variability in each student’s response to minor illnesses, the Student Health Center cannot always predict which students will miss assignments or classes in response to these illnesses. Honest communication between a professor and a student can better address these situations on a case by case basis.

In cases of more serious illness or injury, especially those that would require prolonged bed rest or hospitalization, the Student Health Center (with the student’s permission) will notify the student’s academic dean of the student’s illness so that the professors can be formally informed of the situation.

E-Mail Communication

Privacy and security concerns, as well as policies of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, do not allow health care providers to communicate with patients via e-mail. However, the Medical Center has created a secure web site that allows communication directly within the medical record system between patient and provider. This site also allows students to directly view immunization records, many lab results, and many x-ray results. The sign-up process is simple and can be accomplished at