Maintaining privacy for unit members' registration and medical information

By necessity, BSA registration and medical forms contain significant personal information. Scouter M.W.B. is looking for ways to keep that information private within his unit.

Editor’s note: Many Scouters wonder how the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) affects Scouting. According to Richard Bourlon, director of the BSA Health and Safety Service, Scouting volunteers, who don’t receive payment for medical treatment, are not affected by HIPAA. “However, all Scouting units should follow reasonable standards of care to maintain the confidentiality of such information as medical histories, birth dates, Social Security numbers, and addresses,” Bourlon said.

Our committee secretary has a master logbook that contains all the boys’ and leaders’ forms. To access it, other leaders must attend a committee meeting and explain their need for the information.

Scoutmaster J.K.
Dallas, Ga.

Units should designate one person, preferably with a medical background, to collect, review, and secure health forms in a binder. This binder goes with the leader on outings. Send only copies to camp; preserve the originals.

Council Health and Safety Chairwoman W.H.
Pocasset, Mass.

We point out to new leaders that the Social Security number is blacked out on the unit and chartered organization copies of the adult application. Even though there’s a place to record Social Security numbers in our database software, we never retain that data.

Pack Committee Member R.W.
Chula Vista, Calif.

Our troop uses a popular database-manage­ment program. Sensitive information is filterable and normally not displayed.

Assistant Scoutmaster D.P.
North Charleston, S.C.

Our troop’s medical files are stored in locked file boxes and maintained by the health and safety chairman. For each event requiring medical forms, the forms are pulled for those members attending and are transported in a file box. The assistant chairman for health and safety and other adults who handle first aid also have access in case of emergency..

Health and Safety Chairwoman P.R.
Carrollton, Tex.

When a new Scouting year starts, parents appreciate being given last year’s medical form with a blank form. If the information hasn’t changed, they can just copy the old form. Parents can dispose of the old forms and see that we have been responsible with their son’s information.

Webelos Den Leader K.C.
La Crescent, Minn.

Only a couple of leaders should be aware of medical problems of Scouts or parents attending activities. (More than one person is needed in case something happens at an event and the one person who knows isn’t there.) Bring medical forms on outings because you can’t remember everything.

Cubmaster G.K.
Orland Park, Ill.

Our troop keeps health information in a secure box; the Scoutmaster or assistant Scoutmaster has possession. Forms are only taken out for a problem or for an activity.

Scoutmaster J.C.
Danville, Pa.

Once a year (right before summer camp), we update all our medical forms. If we have a form on a boy who has left Scouting, we shred the form.

Scoutmaster L.B.
New York, N.Y.

Each year, a troop mom who’s a doctor makes a “cheat sheet” of critical information about our Scouts (such as allergies and medications), which we share with outing leaders. Don’t be overly secretive; every leader should know if a Scout has severe allergies to bee stings or peanuts..

Troop Committee Member P.D.
Jackson, Miss.

In TroopMaster software, you can control what data each leader can access. We hide birth dates, Social Security numbers, and medical information from all users but the database administrator.

Assistant Scoutmaster C.J.
St. Louis, Mo.

We created a policy on how we handle restricted information. A copy is given to pack parents, who are encouraged to discuss any concerns with the committee chairman or chartered organization representative.

Pack Committee Chairman D.P.
Topeka, Kan.

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