When it comes to health care for adolescents, patient autonomy and parental responsibility are at times forced into opposition, and when adolescent patients in the U.S. seek care for sensitive issues — sexually transmitted infections, mental health problems, drug use, contraception, etc. — the health care team’s ability to render treatment without involving a parent will depend on which jurisdiction they’re in.
A paper published May 9 in Pediatrics outlines how laws concerning adolescent patient confidentiality and independent adolescent consent for health care services vary substantially from state to state, are often unclear, and often run counter to patient confidentiality standards advocated by medical societies.
“Adolescents are at high risk for sensitive medical issues. Redressing rampant confusion and inconsistency with regard to patient privacy for this group should be a national public health priority,” said the paper’s senior author, pediatrician and internist Trent Rosenbloom, MD, MPH, Vice Chair of Faculty Affairs and Professor of Biomedical Informatics, Pediatrics, Medicine and Clinical Nursing at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.