Concerns emerge over campus policies on sharing medical information from Nov. 9 protests

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After the Tang Center released information to UCPD regarding medical care that Nov. 9 Occupy Cal protesters received, individuals have called for greater transparency of campus policies on protecting patient privacy.

In response to the concerns, UC Berkeley’s University Health Services released a statement Thursday clarifying laws and policies that protect patient information after the circulation of blog posts questioning the ethics of campus-affiliated health care. Reporting the names and injuries of the protesters who sought treatment at the Tang Center to local law enforcement is required by state law, according to the statement.

Reclaim UC — a blog that follows UC protests and budget cuts, among other issues — along with the ACLU of Northern California and a number of individual bloggers cited concerns that the Tang Center released information on injuries protesters sustained during the demonstration, where police officers used batons to prevent the establishment of an encampment.

“The fact that medical records can be turned over to the UCPD in order to incriminate victims of police violence raises serious questions about the ethics of medical care on the UC Berkeley campus,” reads a Monday blog post from Reclaim UC.

In a Tuesday letter to Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, the ACLU of Northern California said “the (campus) must take affirmative steps to restore confidence in its medical center and to ensure that victims are not chilled from seeking medical treatment in the future” after campus police received information regarding injuries and treatment at the Tang Center for at least two protesters.

Though the ACLU letter recognized that reporting injury information is a part of state law, it said that “special procedures are necessary where law enforcement is the assailant, so that a statute intended to protect victims of violence is not perversely used against them.”

The letter comes after criminal charges were filed against eight Nov. 9 protesters. The letter states that protesters who were contacted by UCPD are “deeply troubled” that police had been informed of their visits to the health center.

The campus statement released Thursday from health services stressed that “patient privacy is a top priority … with strict privacy practices in place to protect patients.”

The health services statement highlighted the Nov. 9 event, stating that California law — penal code 11160 — requires any medical facility that treats patients who are suspected to have suffered physical injury as a result of assault or abusive conducts to report such to their local law enforcement jurisdiction.

“Medical records are not released as part of this mandatory reporting requirement, only the reporting form required by law,” the statement reads. “Full medical records may only be released with written consent from patients or a subpoena, except where specified by law.”

Geena Cova covers academics and administration.