When an adolescent patient requests confidential services, balancing the patient’s rights with the parent’s rights can be complicated. Keep these rules in mind.
1. Emancipated and married minors can consent to their own health care.
2. Some state laws permit unemancipated minors to consent to receive certain types of services on their own, such as reproductive, substance abuse, or mental health services. The Guttmacher Institute provides a summary of minors' consent laws by state.
3. When minors can consent to care on their own, the minor “owns” the medical information related to those services and the minor must give permission to share the information with anyone else, including a parent or legal guardian.
4. A parent's rights to a minor's health information can depend on the terms of a separation agreement or divorce decree. Only the parent with legal custody maintains the legal right to consent to care, and only that parent can receive health information about his or her children.
Read the full FPM article: “Protecting Adolescent Patient Privacy: Four Key Questions.”
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