ACLU Releases Guide To Protecting Teens' Confidentiality Under Federal Medical Privacy Regulations

March 25, 2003 12:00 am

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NEW YORK- The American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project today issued a new guide aimed at helping health care professionals understand and protect the privacy rights of minors under new federal medical privacy regulations.

Beginning on April 14 of this year, health care providers and health plans must comply with new federal regulations designed to protect the privacy of patients’ health information. These regulations give patients important new rights over their health information.

The regulations include intricate provisions for dealing with minors’ health information. In general, the regulations give parents access to their minor children’s health information. But there are important exceptions. For example, when a minor lawfully consents to a health care service on her own, such as contraception or STD testing and treatment, the regulations give health care professionals discretion to decide whether or not to disclose information about the service to a minor’s parent, unless state law expressly requires or prohibits disclosure.

The ACLU publication provides a step-by-step guide to aid health care providers, insurance plans, and others in understanding these provisions. The ACLU said the guide will be particularly useful to health care professionals who provide sensitive health care services, such as reproductive health care, substance abuse treatment, and mental health services.

The guide can be downloaded at /ReproductiveRights/ReproductiveRights.cfm?ID=12118&c=222

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