[ Monday, August 29, 2005 ]


Teenagers. When the patient can't speak for himself or herself, as with a child or incompetent adult, the law usually appoints a surrogate, directly or indirectly. Parents call the medical shots for their young children, and court-appointed or self-appointed (via medical powers of attorney) guardians make decisions for elderly patients who can't make their own decisions. These responsible parties also are entitled to access to the PHI of their wards, since they stand in the shoes of their wards in that regard.

But what about teenagers? Primarily because of the highly-politicized nature of abortion, the usual rules of "minority" don't always apply in the medical field. You can't be bound to a contract you sign in you aren't of the "age of majority," and as a general rule parents retain the right to control their kids' healthcare decisions for as long as they are minors (and aren't "emancipated" or freed from the restrictions of minority). In many states, a minor can't get a tattoo or body piercing without parental consent, but parental consent requirements have resulted in abortion restrictions being ruled unconstitutional.

This article shows some of the problems that arise when parents want access to their children's medical records.

Jeff [11:46 AM]

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