Confidentiality and Consent
Preserving confidentiality for adolescent patients is an important part of the health care visit experience and allows for open communication about sensitive topics. It's important for pediatricians to understand the benefits and limitations of confidentiality, and to allow for private time with the adolescent during the visit. It is also important for pediatricians to encourage their adolescent patients to talk to a parent, guardian, or other trusted adult about their health care needs and concerns.
Consent and confidentiality can be complicated, particularly with difficult decisions that the adolescent and his/her parents/guardians need to make around important issues such as reproductive health, contraception, and teen pregnancy. The AAP has developed guidance around these issues that can help providers navigate this with their patients and their families.
Consent for Health Services and Confidentiality and the Law
When caring for minors, it is important to understand applicable state laws that affect whether/when minors can consent to testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. Some states require that the parents are notified if the minor has requested to be tested or is receiving treatment.
Insurance and Billing Services
One of the barriers to the provision of confidential care for adolescents is the associated billing and insurance processes. The AAP, ACOG, and SAHM have developed guidance and strategies on how to address these issues, both the billing for providers and the insurance explanation of benefits.
Below are some resources that can assist providers in understanding the importance of confidentiality and private time, how to overcome the insurance and billing issues, and how to deliver this care to adolescents and young adults. Some of these resources can be shared with patients and families.
AAP Clinical Guidance for Primary Care Providers
CDC Resources for Adolescents/Young Adults and Families
Other Helpful Resources for Providers, Adolescents/Young Adults and Families
A young person should understand her rights regarding receipt of confidential health care services and those services for which consent can be given without a parent's approval. Here are some resources that explain these rights and the laws that govern them: