CO: Drive with students' medical info stolen from nurse's unattended car

CBS in Denver reports that a suitcase containing a thumb drive with approximately 100 students’ unencrypted medical information was stolen from a school nurse’s car on October 5. The car had been left in a parking lot.

The drive reportedly contained confidential health information for students from Eagleton, Castro and Munroe Schools. That information included medications, health-related letters and medical histories.

And of course, this would be covered by FERPA, not HIPAA.

This is not the first time we’ve seen student health info stolen from a school nurse’s or employee’s unattended vehicle. And this is going to keep happening until the federal government or states really crack down and impose meaningful consequences on districts that do not have policies in place that they monitor and enforce to protect students’ personal information.

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2 comments to “CO: Drive with students' medical info stolen from nurse's unattended car”

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  1. Anonymous - October 18, 2013

    It would be covered by BOTH HIPAA & FERPA

    • Anonymous - October 18, 2013

      You’d think so, but no. From the government at

      When a school provides health care to students in the normal course of business, such as through its health clinic, it is also a “health care provider” as defined by HIPAA. If a school also conducts any covered transactions electronically in connection with that health care, it is then a covered entity under HIPAA. As a covered entity, the school must comply with the HIPAA Administrative Simplification Rules for Transactions and Code Sets and Identifiers with respect to its transactions.

      However, many schools, even those that are HIPAA covered entities, are not required to comply with the HIPAA Privacy Rule because the only health records maintained by the school are “education records” or “treatment records” of eligible students under FERPA, both of which are excluded from coverage under the HIPAA Privacy Rule. See the exception at paragraph (2)(i) and (2)(ii) to what is considered “protected health information” (PHI) at 45 CFR § 160.103. In addition, the exception for records covered by FERPA applies both to the HIPAA Privacy Rule, as well as to the HIPAA Security Rule, because the Security Rule applies to a subset of information covered by the Privacy Rule (i.e., electronic PHI).


      V. Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

      1. Does the HIPAA Privacy Rule apply to an elementary or secondary school?
      Generally, no. In most cases, the HIPAA Privacy Rule does not apply to an elementary or secondary school because the school either: (1) is not a HIPAA covered entity or (2) is a HIPAA covered entity but maintains health information only on students in records that are by definition “education records” under FERPA and, therefore, is not subject to the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

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