Author: Anna ('20)
Part of HIPE’s job at Urban is to inform the Urban Community about their rights & what they can do to be healthy. This short article is meant to be a brief rundown on Minor-Doctor confidentiality rights in California.
But first, some basic legal knowledge is needed. A “minor” is legally defined as a person who is under the age of 18, and when it comes to the medical world, minor-patient rights generally fall under two areas: informed consent & confidentiality. Informed Consent is the idea that a patient is able to know about their condition, most information regarding their treatment, and any predictable risks, benefits, or alternative treatments, and can then give consent to have that procedure done or not done. When it comes to minors, dependent on state law, they have the ability to give sole consent (thus not needing the consent of their parent) under certain circumstances or for certain procedures. Confidentiality, in relation to medical treatment, means that no information related to the treatment or procedure (like medical records) can be disclosed without the explicit permission & consent of the patient. But again when discussing minors this is subject to state law, as certain information can be disclosed to the parent regardless of the minor’s wishes.
According to the California Healthcare Foundation, “Many states have laws that outline the specific circumstances under which minors may consent to receive health care services. These laws generally fall into two categories: (1) those that allow consent based on the status of the minor (e.g., married or emancipated) and (2) those that allow consent based on the type of health care service the minor is seeking (e.g., reproductive or mental health care).”
This article will be going into depth on a couple of specific ones: Birth Control, STIs, & Alcohol/Drug Counseling.
In California, as a minor, you have access to birth control (all kinds – including pills, IUD, shots, emergency contraception/morning after pill), pregnancy testing, abortion, prenatal care, labor, and delivery, care if you have been sexually assaulted, drug/alcohol abuse treatment (12+), mental health services (12+), and STI and HIV testing and treatment (12+) without the consent of a parent. But dependent on the situation parent can still be notified of your treatment.
Birth Control: Very simply, any minor may receive birth control & health care provider is not permitted to inform a parent or legal guardian
STI/HIV: Any 12-year-old or older can request testing or treatment for sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV/AIDS). Health care providers are not permitted to inform parents or legal guardians without the minor’s consent. The provider can only share the minor’s medical records with the signed consent of the minor.
Drug/Alcohol: Any 12-year-old or older can “consent to medical care and counseling relating to the diagnosis and treatment of a drug or alcohol-related problem.” But if the program where you are getting this treatment is government-funded, your records will be considered confidential & no parent/guardian will be notified of your treatment. If the program where you are getting treatment is not federally-assisted/government-funded than it is mandatory that the medical staff attempt to contact your parent or guardian. But note, that California law gives Health Care Providers the right to refuse access to medical records if they believe that it will cause a detrimental affect on parent/guardian and patient relationships.
*The chart (at the top) was created by the Adolescent Health Working Group lays out which services minors can receive without parental consent & which services are confidential.
http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/dhsp/Providers/toolkit2.pdf, https://www.nyclu.org/sites/default/files/thl.pdf, https://www.chcf.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/PDF-PrivacyPleaseHealthConsentMinors.pdf, https://www.chhs.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Committees/California-Child-Welfare-Council/CSEC-Program-Convening/CA-Moinior-Consent-and-Confidentiality-Laws.pdf, & http://dpbh.nv.gov/uploadedFiles/dpbhnvgov/content/Boards/RBHPB/Meetings/2018/CA%20Minor%20Consent%20Laws_Mental%20Health%20Services.pdf