Facilitating Communication is Essential for the Treatment of Minors continued:
Establish a trusting relationship with the patient and the parent and discuss the issue of confidentiality.
Write a confidentiality statement and share it with your minor patients.
Fear of disclosure prevents some minors from seeking services. When young people are assured that providers will respect their privacy and provide confidential care, they are more likely to seek care, especially reproductive health care. Generally, when a minor can consent to treatment or testing, health providers may keep this information confidential.
However, there are circumstances in which confidentiality may not be possible, including:
Cases of suspected child abuse or neglect, including sexual abuse.
Cases where a counselor of a minor who abuses drugs or alcohol, or has a family member who abuses drugs or alcohol, believes that parental notification is necessary to protect the safety of the minor or others.
Mental health records may be made available to a parent if the therapist does not find that there are compelling reasons for denying access to a parent.
The billing and health insurance claims process, which may result in the disclosure of confidential information to a minor’s parents, particularly if a minor is covered under the parent’s health insurance. Health care providers should discuss with the patient what information will be included in a bill or insurance claim and how this could lead to disclosure of confidential medical information.
Please Note: This publication is intended as a guide, and does not provide individual legal assistance. Please check with your legal counsel for site-specific clarification about confidentiality and disclosure issues, including any new policies related to the HIPAA privacy rule.