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Informed Consent - page 4 / 6

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Providers of such treatment may not notify parents o f t h e m i n o r s t r e a t m e n t s e r v i c e s w i t h o u t t h e m i n o r consent unless the provider believes that such notification is necessary. If the minor is under 17, counseling or psychotherapy sessions are limited to five in number until parental consent is obtained. In addition, parents can obtain psychological records if the provider does not find compelling reasons for denying access. s

Communication is Critical

It is usually helpful for a young person to talk with a parent or responsible adult when making health care decisions. In fact, many young people do involve at least one parent when making health care decisions. Whenever possible, open communication with a parent or legal guardian should be encouraged, both in making the initial decision and in having their ongoing support during and after medical treatment.

However, open communication with parents is not always possible for young people. Some cannot involve their parents because they come from homes where physical violence, sexual abuse or emotional abuse is prevalent. Other parents simply do not support their teenagers in seeking reproductive health care. In addition, research shows that the absence of confidentiality discourages minors from seeking sensitive reproductive health services. For these and other reasons, minors, as a matter of law, may receive certain health services without being required to tell their parents or needing their parents’ permission.

Facilitating Communication is Essential for the Treatment of Minors

  • Initiate conversations with minors about their right to confidential health care.

  • Discuss whether and how a minor’s parents or legal guardians will be involved in her/his health care.

  • Encourage the minor patient to involve a parent or legal guardian when appropriate.

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