minors, privacy rights of (Florida)

The general rule for minors' health information privacy is that if a minor has the right to control a health care decision, then he or she has the right to control the information associated with that decision. Florida statutes articulate that rule in a few specific areas.

Minors may receive examination and treatment for sexually transmissable diseases without the consent of a parent or guardian. The fact of the consultation or treatment cannot "be divulged in any direct or indirect manner" (such as by sending a bill to the parent or guardian). (FL Stat 384.30)

When a minor acting alone has the legal capacity to voluntarily apply for and obtain substance abuse treatment, any written consent for disclosure may be given only by the minor client. When the consent of a parent, legal guardian, or custodian is required for treatment, the consent must be given by both the minor and the parent, legal guardian, or custodian. (397.501)

Beyond the excepted areas, the even more general rule is a presumption of parental control over unemancipated minors' health care decisions, and thus of the information associated with that decision.

As in many other states, Florida gives special statutory attention to the matter of minors' abortions. Under the Parental Notice of Abortion Act, a termination of pregnancy may not be performed or induced on a minor unless notice has been provided to at least one parent, or to the minor's legal guardian, at least 48 hours in advance. (390.01115)

Such pre-termination notice is not required where a medical emergency exists (the physician must document the medical necessity), when such notice has been waived by the parent or guardian, or on successful petition by the minor to a circuit court for a waiver of notice. For the last of these, the court may grant a waiver based on evidence of the minor's "maturity" to make the decision, in the case of child abuse or sexual abuse by a parent, or where notification is deemed not to be "in the best interests" of the minor.

Divorced parents have full rights to access their minor child's health records, and to communicate with the child's health care providers, even if they are not the primary residential parent, unless a court order has specifically revoked or limited those rights. (61.13)

One parent cannot block another's access, absent such an order. However, as always, if the minor has the right to seek treatment without parental consent, he/she can block the access of either/both parent(s) to the health information associated with the decision. (61.13)

Extended family members who have temporary legal custody of a minor child -- or the putative father that has physical custody -- may obtain access to and secure copies of the minor's medical, dental and psychiatric records. Again, if the minor has the right to seek treatment without parental consent, he/she can block this access too. (751.01)

See also:

Last modified: 15-May-2005 [RC]


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