If the parent of an adolescent patient contacts you or your staff wanting to know why the teen visited your practice, how do you balance the parent’s rights and the patient’s rights? The correct response depends on the teen’s situation.
The teen patient’s information must be kept private if any the following situations apply.
1. The teen is emancipated or a married minor and can consent to care independently. Because the minor “owns” the medical information related to the services, the minor must give permission to share the information with anyone else, including a parent or legal guardian.
2. You practice in a state that permits unemancipated minors to consent to receive certain types of services on their own, such as reproductive, substance abuse, or mental health services. (See the Guttmacher Institute summary of minors' consent laws by state.) Again, the minor must give permission to share the information with anyone else.
3. The parent no longer has legal custody of the minor due to the terms of a separation agreement or divorce decree; only the parent with legal custody can consent to care and receive health information about minor children.
Read the full FPM article: “Protecting Adolescent Patient Privacy: Four Key Questions.”
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