TEEN CONFIDENTIALITY POLICY
As pediatric healthcare providers, we want to recognize and support our teenage patients’ evolving maturity and independence. Adolescence is a time of transition toward adulthood, and we believe that we should support this healthy transition in our office. Toward this goal, we want our teens and parents to be aware of the following office policy:
During our adolescent well visits, we will spend part of each visit alone with the teenage patient. We see this as an opportunity for teens to become more comfortable speaking alone with their doctor, something that they will need to do independently once they become adults. We also want to give all teens an opportunity to address any and all of their healthcare concerns in a private and confidential manner, should they need or want to.
When teens share something with us that they ask to remain confidential, we will honor that request, unless they plan to harm themselves or someone else. Although we always encourage adolescent patients to be open and honest with their parents, teens do obtain certain “rights” that are independent of parental knowledge or consent. Based on Title X, a federal program devoted to providing family planning services, teens have a right to confidential services that offer contraception, counseling, GYN exams, screening for sexually transmitted illnesses, and other reproductive health care for both women and men.
We are happy to speak privately with parents during the visit, at their request, about any concerns that they may want to share about their teen. We will maintain the teenage patient’s confidentiality in these discussions, however. We want them to have a “safe” place to go with any health concern, and sometimes our practice can be that safe place. We hope that parents will trust us to take the best care of our teenage patients in these situations.
This policy is consistent with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Society for Adolescent Medicine surrounding adolescent confidentiality in healthcare.
We consider it a privilege to take care of teenagers, and we look forward to working together, with this policy in mind, as our teens grow into healthy, independent adults.
18 and up
Once our patients turn 18, by law, we are required to have a signed permission to speak form on file. This form must be completed and signed by the patient themselves. Parents, we understand that it may be frustrating when you call the office and are told that we need the signed form before a provider or nurse can speak with them, but this is the law and we must follow it.
We are constantly working to improve the quality of care that we provide to our patients. One of the measures that we are including is routine screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea. This screen is recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force and other national health agencies for all patients 16 years and older. Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted disease, and it often does not have any symptoms. If untreated, it can lead to serious long-term problems, including infertility.
At future well visits, we will screen all patients 16 years and older for chlamydia and gonorrhea, without regard to sexual activity. Screening is done with a urine sample, and we ask that patients bring a sample with them to the visit. A sample of the first void of the morning can be collected in a clean container and refrigerated until the time of the visit (not to exceed 24 hours). There is no need to clean their body well before collecting the sample. The results of this screen are more accurate when done without any extra cleaning precautions. The results of the screen will go directly to your child. We are unable to provide the results of any sexually transmitted disease testing to anyone but your child since the state of Connecticut requires by law that this type of information is to be disclosed only to the patient, regardless of age.
Two of the vaccines that are recommended during the teen years protect against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and bacterial meningitis. If you have questions or concerns regarding these vaccines, please ask us at your child’s well visit.