June 1, 1999
Mr. Ronald Perry
Orleans Correctional Facility
3531 Gaines Basin Road
Albion, NY 14411-9199
The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions.
The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented in your
Dear Mr. Perry:
I have received your letter of May 3. You have sought an opinion concerning the
names of agencies from which you may obtain the hospital admission record of a person other
In short, I know of no agency that would be required to disclose the information in
question under the Freedom of Information Law. Although that statute provides broad rights
of access to government records, §87(2)(b) states that an agency may withhold records or
portions thereof that:
"if disclosed would constitute an unwarranted invasion of
personal privacy under the provisions of subdivision two of
section eighty-nine of this article...."
In addition, §89(2)(b) lists a series of examples of unwarranted invasions of personal privacy,
the first two of which pertain to:
"i. disclosure of employment, medical or credit histories or
personal references or applicants for employment;
ii. disclosure of items involving the medical or personal
records of a client or patient in a medical facility..."
From my perspective, a record of an admission to a hospital consists in great measure of what
might be characterized as a medical record or history relating to the person needing care or
service (see Hanig v. NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, 79 NY 2d 106 (1992)].
Consequently, in my opinion, records identifying those to whom medical services were
rendered may be withheld on the ground that disclosure would constitute an unwarranted
invasion of personal privacy.
It is also noted that other provisions of law forbid the disclosure of medical records,
except in specified circumstances (see e.g., Public Health Law, §§18 and 2803-c).
I hope that the foregoing serves to enhance your understanding of the matter and that
I have been of assistance.
Robert J. Freeman