Minor's Rights Versus Parental Rights: Review of Legal Issues in Adolescent Health Care

Ann Maradiegue, C-FNP, MSN


J Midwifery Womens Health. 2003;48(3) 

In This Article

Clinical Implications for Practice

Adolescent health experts agree that adolescents will not seek care unless they are assured of confidential services.[4,6] In an interview with Abigail English, legal counsel at the Center for Adolescent Health Policy and the Law; she said that it is appropriate for the minor to be the one to exercise the privacy rights under the HIPAA regulation. Women, including minors who seek confidential services, closely relate confidentiality to the use of health care services. For example, a young woman who has seen her regular clinician for family-planning services might come home to find a bill has been sent to her parents even though the minor legally obtained those services without involving the parent. These types of communications can seriously compromise the privacy of an individual and may even deter the individual from seeking further treatment (October 15, 2001). Understanding the confidential services that adolescents are entitled to helps clinicians deliver appropriate care to this age group.

Clinicians have a window of opportunity to provide primary prevention strategies to youths who may reduce adolescent health risk behaviors, possibly even reduce the initiation of high-risk sexual behavior during an office visit. Creative, age-appropriate strategies include an adolescent-friendly waiting area with brochures, educational videos, and educational computer programs.[52]


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