A Look at the Medical Privacy Rights of Minors

Healthcare Training Resource
August 7, 2012 — 1,159 views  
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Adolescents have medical privacy rights, depending on the situation. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), a federal privacy law, notes that parents can protect the health information of their children. While this regulation sets a minimum standard, states can create stronger laws.

As a medical professional, you'll want to understand any rules relating to the medical rights of minors in the state in which you work. Failing to do so could cause severe legal repercussions. A violation of HIPAA might result in fines and other penalties, so taking the time to learn and recognize these guidelines will serve you well.

Consider the overview below to get a better idea about how HIPAA defines some of the questions you might face regarding the medical rights of minors.

Can guardians or parents see their kids' medical records?

Typically, parents have the right to view the medical records of their children, but there are some exceptions. For example, if a minor consents to care, he or she would fall under the regulations set by the state or other applicable law. Depending on the state, the child would then have the right to bar his or her parents from seeing this medical information.

Other exemptions exist, including minors who obtain care at the direction of a court or a person appointed by a court. In this scenario, the child would be able to prevent his or her guardians from viewing these medical records. Additionally, a parent who agrees that the minor and healthcare provider may have a confidential relationship gives up his or her ability to access this information.

Who is impacted by the medical rights of minors?

Children, their parents and healthcare providers are directly affected by HIPAA and its regulations regarding the medical rights of minors.

Kids must show that they have the capacity to make sometimes life-changing decisions relating to their health. With the medical rights of minors, these adolescents have the ability to impact their short- and long-term safety.

Meanwhile, parents have the legal right to make decisions about their kids' health in many states. In these areas, adults must balance a variety of factors to make the best possible choices.

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