Is there a "global waiver" available that would ensure that parents have automatic access to their child's medical or mental health information?
Under Massachusetts law, individuals who are 18 or older have the right to make their own medical decisions and to make decisions about the privacy of their medical records. Also, students under the age of 18, but living away from home at college, usually are considered "mature minors" under Massachusetts law, which also gives them the legal standing to make their own decisions about care and privacy. Thus, in general, HUHS will treat students as adults, and address issues of concern directly with them. It is the student's responsibility to notify family of illnesses or injuries, except in the rare situation where a student has lost the capacity to make or communicate his or her medical choices, in which case next-of-kin will be consulted. In the non-emergency situation, however, HUHS will respond to questions from family members or others about a specific visit or illness when the student has given us contemporaneous permission, usually in writing, to do so. Waivers can be revoked by a patient at any time, so putting in place an advance waiver does not allow for family notification because students can simply revoke the waiver.
For parents who have concerns about situations in which their child may be in distress and seek information on the student's medical or mental health status, we want you to know that Harvard University Health Services works very closely with the College when it comes to protecting the student, or others in the community, from harm. In the rare instance in which a student's medical or mental health status poses a danger to the student or a threat to others in the community, HUHS professional staff may disclose any relevant information to any appropriate person, including College officials and parents, for the purpose of protecting the student, others, or the community from harm.