Confidentiality in adolescents


  • Specializes in Paramedic 15 years, RN now.

I'm two weeks into peds. Reading, of course, just starting out the reading that is and a question came to me. It is advised to give adolescents private time with the nurse so they will be honest in their answers. Of course, I know that if a childs well being is in danger or something illegal is occuring, we MUST inform the parent, etc. But, what confidentiality rights does this under aged person have? Is he/she is sexually active, do I have the right to tell the parent? Do I have any reason to tell the parent?


dudette10, MSN, RN

1 Article; 3,530 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg, Academics. Has 12 years experience.

In my state, there are laws associated with adolescent confidentiality for very specific situations. Plus, each situation is handled differently. Do not assume that you can break adolescent confidentiality! I don't know where you would definitively find such information in a hospital environment, but I suspect you could check policy and protocol or with the legal department.

ETA: Even if something illegal is occurring, e.g. drug use, my state DOES NOT allow informing the parents without consent of the minor. So, again, be prudent and keep everything confidential unless you find out otherwise.

Always seek clarity. There are some situations that you are not obligated to report to the parents, whomever. In some instances you could actually be violating the kid's privacy rights. Plus, you will never get that kid to tell you anything ever again if you break their trust. Ask your instructor, and by all means if you are obligated to report, then do it. Otherwise, I would encourage the kid to seek more open and honest lines of communication with their parents.


54 Posts

We just went over this in class today... From what I understand, the laws vary a LOT by state, so you have to know what your state's regs are. In my state, minors have full rights to confidentiality if they are receiving treatment for STDs. This includes initial consult, actual tx, everything. It would be a violation for the healthcare worker to discuss any aspect of that with the minor's parents. I think that applies to pregnancy, too...