One of my student could not come to Physics lab and now he is asking me that he was sick and he went to ER after coming to USA. He says that he does not have doctor's note for the visit. In reality, his friend told me he went home abroad and did not return on time. Can I ask for ER discharge report as a proof? Does it violate Ferpa ?

Thanks Pat

  • You need to indicate what country the doctor is in.
    – user6726
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 18:43
  • @user6726 he visited an ER in USA after coming from abroad. Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 18:44

2 Answers 2


Medical professional here - asking for the discharge report would be completely inappropriate, as that report would contain medically-sensitive information. For instance, the discharge report would include details on what the student was treated for, any medications they were already taking or that were prescribed during their ER visit, and any other current or previous medical problems that the student reported to the ER staff. What you want is something else entirely: a note from the facility confirming that the student was in their care, colloquially called a return to work/school note. This will contain the student's name, the date(s) of care, and the name of the physician responsible for the care (it may also indicate that there are no medical restrictions on the types of activities the student may perform). You cannot request it from the hospital directly, but you can request that your student does so. Most facilities ask for 24-72 hours to turn around a request for this letter, so please set a reasonable deadline for your student.


FERPA is about educational records in the US. In the case of primary or secondary schools, school nurse visits may be educational records, but otherwise the relevant law is HIPAA. Under HIPAA rules, a doctor (for example) cannot divulge anything, even whether a person was seen, without the patient's permission.

It is not illegal to request such information from the doctor, but they are required to deny the request (if there isn't accompanying permission from the patient). You can always request information from the student, or request them to convey permission to the doctor (although the doctor probably will not personally deal with such requests, so this would go through the medical records department). If the service provider has been given permission to release information, there is no legal obligation on their part to actually do so, unless perhaps there is a direct request from the patient to provide a specific person with specific information.

  • Does that mean that I can legally request for ER discharge report as a proof.. Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 19:05
  • @user2958481: You can ask, and anyone you ask can refuse to comply with your request.
    – feetwet
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 21:28

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