ADMINISTRATION OF GOVERNMENT GENERALLY: VIRGINIA FREEDOM OF
Medical records excluded from provisions of Act.
November 24, 1988
The Honorable Gary W. Waters
Sheriff for the City of Portsmouth
You ask whether the local health department may withhold from you
"confidential health information" concerning an inmate who is
lawfully committed to your jail. You state that the department relies
on §2.1-342(b) of the Code of Virginia for its authority to
withhold this information.
I. Freedom of Information Act Excludes Medical Records from
Records Otherwise Open to Inspection
The disclosure of public records is governed by the Virginia
Freedom of Information Act, §§2.1-340 through 2.1-346.1.
Section 2.1-342(a) provides that, "[e]xcept as otherwise
specifically provided by law, all official records shall be open to
inspection." Section 2.1-342(b)(3), however, excludes medical records
from the provisions of the Act.
II. Medical Records May Be Withheld
Based on the above, it is my opinion that, absent authorization by
the inmate whose medical records are sought, the department may
legally withhold this information pursuant to