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Old 11th Mar 2011, 04:17 PM   #1
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Default Is there anything I can do? Does the confidentiality clause protect me as a minor?

I have a few questions reguarding the protection and privacy of my health records under the HIPAA act or confientiality clause as a minor. My circumstances are fairly different though.*

1. I'm a fifteen year old minor.
2. I'm involved with DFACCS (i think it's spelled right) because I have a social worker with issues at home so I was removed from my home and am in the care of my grandmother.
3. I live in Georgia.

*I confided in my therapist telling her I was sexually active and contracted an STD from my boyfriend but I was treated by my gynecologist. I missed my follow-up appointment to make sure I was clear. I told my therapist my concerns with getting to the doctor to make sure I'm okay. She told me she would talk to my social worker to try and make arrangements for a doctor's appointment. So I got a call today from my therapist saying my social worker pretty much said my mom and my grandmother has to know so I can get to the doctor because my health is an issue and saying there was no way around telling them. Is there anyway around this for them having to know about my health conditions? I suggested that if I could find a way to have my grandmother take me to the gynecologist without her having to know and my health be confirmed fine but they said that my mother and granny HAVE TO know. Is there anything I can do to prevent them from knowing? They gave me until Monday to tell them so if anyone can tell me anything, please do! Thanks. :/
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Old 11th Mar 2011, 04:38 PM   #2
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Default Re: Is there anything I can do? Does the confidentiality clause protect me as a minor

I think the best place to find advice and support on this would be to contact planned parenthood in georgia. They should definately know the law in the state and might even be willing to stand up to your social workers on your behalf.
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Old 12th Mar 2011, 01:53 AM   #3
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Default Re: Is there anything I can do? Does the confidentiality clause protect me as a minor

Although HIPAA is a Federal Statue, state laws regarding privacy issues with medical records also come into play. But for the most part, a parent or guardian of a minor can get access to medical records only with the consent of the individual patient.

Your therapist can only refer information about you only in the case if you are suicidal or homicidal.
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Old 12th Mar 2011, 04:33 AM   #4
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Default Re: Is there anything I can do? Does the confidentiality clause protect me as a minor

This is a sticky situation, and the issue you run into sometimes is social workers who have a Christian background (which many do) decide to take it into their own hands to tell parents that their kids are sexually active, even though it may be illegal for them to do so.

I think the advice of checking with Planned Parenthood is excellent. There is also an excellent gay/lesbian center, with licensed counselors, in Atlanta, that should be familiar with these sorts of issues. You might be able to call them and get advice as well.

One other thought: In many places, there are free, anonymous STI testing clinics that will also provide free treatment, as part of a public health objective of reducing STI transmission. Because they are free and anonymous they also, conveniently, don't ask for ID, so if you don't tell them you're under age... and dress appropriately... they will probalby never figure it out.

Hopefully this plus some of the advice you've gotten from others above will be helpful to you!
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Old 12th Mar 2011, 05:33 AM   #5
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Default Re: Is there anything I can do? Does the confidentiality clause protect me as a minor

HIPAA doesn't protect the confidentiality of minors. And it doesn't completely cover confidentiality mental health services provided to minors. If the state has removed you from your parent's home, they should have also appointed a legal guardian (or guardian ad litem) who does have the legal right to know about your medical treatment.

Some states have mandatory parental notification laws that require health care providers to provide information to parents or guardian- particularly about pregnancy, abortion or sexual activity. Georgia is a very very conservative state regarding issues with unemancipated minors and they have parental notification laws for abortions, for example.

The social worker is giving you a bit of an "out" by telling you that you should tell your parent/guardian. If you think that the social worker is pressuring you or may take it upon herself to tell your guardian, then my recommendation is to not tell the social worker information that you don't want your parents to know. Do not lie- just say that you're not comfortable answering questions that are of a personal nature.

Planned Parenthood is a good option. They have a great deal of experience with the legal issues around reproduction and their goal is to treat and prevent STDs, not to make moral choices for their patients. They can also advise you about contraception (if you are female) and other reproductive issues.
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Old 12th Mar 2011, 07:35 AM   #6
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Default Re: Is there anything I can do? Does the confidentiality clause protect me as a minor

What complicates your situation is being in care. Social workers often have an obligation to disclose any information affecting your health & safety to your caregiver if you are under 16. They have to follow agency protocols, and are doing what they can to give you a chance to talk with your grandmother first before they do it. They will have to. Maybe they can help you break the news & help your grandmother adjust to the information?
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Old 12th Mar 2011, 07:49 AM   #7
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Default Re: Is there anything I can do? Does the confidentiality clause protect me as a minor

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chip View Post
This is a sticky situation, and the issue you run into sometimes is social workers who have a Christian background (which many do) decide to take it into their own hands to tell parents that their kids are sexually active, even though it may be illegal for them to do so.
It would be incredibly unprofessional to impose one's own values on a client in any of the social work professions. Regardless of what that background is. Telling parents has more to do with an agency's policies, which are based on laws & regulatory standards, than the social worker's Christian background.

Last edited by KaraBulut; 12th Mar 2011 at 10:56 AM.. Reason: fixed quote tag
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Old 12th Mar 2011, 11:14 AM   #8
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Default Re: Is there anything I can do? Does the confidentiality clause protect me as a minor

Quote:
It would be incredibly unprofessional to impose one's own values on a client in any of the social work professions. Regardless of what that background is.
I completely agree. Which is why it is so appalling when it happens. It is equally appalling for social workers to be condemning of gay people or nontraditional families or transgendered people... but it happens all the time due to the social worker's inability to separate his or her beliefs from his or her role. I'm simply saying that it unfortunately does happen more often than it should.

Quote:
Telling parents has more to do with an agency's policies, which are based on laws & regulatory standards, than the social worker's Christian background.
They are separate issues. Obviously if a social worker is bound to disclose by agency policy or regulatory standard, then s/he must do so. But those are not the circumstances I'm speaking of. I don't mean to malign either the social work profession, or Christians. I'm simply saying... this is a recognized problem in the field.
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