Typically, I am not one of those bloggers that goes on a rant and continuously spouts off my opinion. I tend to prefer a more gentle approach to educating others. However, this time it is a bit different because I feel that the issue is very important and most certainly affects our rights as parents.
A few days ago I went online to access the patient portal for our family’s doctor office. I wanted to make an appointment for my daughter for an ingrown toenail. She frequently suffers with these and getting her into the doctor’s as soon as possible helps the healing process. However, I noticed that my two daughters names had been removed from the list of names from our family on the patient portal. Figuring it was a mistake, I called the doctor. I was then informed that due to the HIPAA privacy ruling that my daughter’s medical records were no longer accessible to me once they reached the age of 12. My daughters are 12 and 13, respectively, and because of that I was told “it is their body, their choice.”
Even though I was allowed to make an appointment over the phone for my 12 year old daughter, it did not appease me. I was told that if my two daughters had an email address, they could set up their own patient portal and access their medical records that way. First of all, my 12 and 13 year old daughters have very limited access to technology, let alone an email address. While they do have an email address they use in school for academic reasons, it is not accessible at home.
I have not been a big fan of the HIPAA law, but have always adhered to its polices because I have had not much of a choice. I know that I can no longer call and ask a question on my own husband’s medical history or even question on paying his bill, unless he has given prior permission. Now according to the doctor’s office and HIPAA, my 12 and 13 year old daughters are considered old enough to be deemed responsible to handle their own medical records?
Upon further questioning at the doctor’s office, I learned that my two daughters must sign a permission slip in order for me, their mother, to access their medical records. What is wrong with this picture?
In some states, like California, a child may request a parent to leave the room during an appointment. In some circumstances, such as in cases of child abuse, I can understand for the child’s safety that a child be able to request the parent leave in order to speak privately to the doctor. However, in most cases this “my body, my choice” policy is not okay. My 12 and 13 year old daughter’s are children. They do not need to be in charge of their own medical records, let alone, have any right to be able to give me permission to access them.
As a parent I am expected to pay their bill, but have no access unless given permission by my own child. I learned that the, HIPAA, The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act helps to keep my health information private. HIPAA requires that providers, such as doctors, nurses, pharmacies, hospitals and nursing homes, keep your health information private. Obviously, this applies to minor’s, such as in the case of my children. These policies make sense in the way so that any average Joe cannot walk in off the street and ask to see my records, or perhaps an employer, or other family members. I do see some good in these policies, but also cannot help but feel that my rights as a parent are violated.
In fact, even under current law, if you have a health plan that covers children, you can now add or keep your children on your health insurance policy until they turn 26 years old. Children can join or remain on a parent’s plan even if they are married and/or not living with their parents. My 12 year old can have control over her own medical records, but yet I can legally pay for her health insurance until she is 26. Where is the logic?
I learned that after I get a signed permission slip from my two daughters, that the HIPAA Privacy Rule will allow me access to their medical records, as my minor children’s personal representative. A parent as a personal representative? I am the parent, not a representative of my child. Under no circumstances does the government know what is best for my child. Nor does the government know my child or have a hand in raising my child.
This issue of “my body, my choice” goes much deeper than my rights as a parent being violated due federal policies and the HIPAA privacy policies. First of all, children do not know what is best for themselves. As parents it is our job to guide them and provide structure as we teach them to be independent until they become adults. This does not occur at the age of 12. My 12 year old daughter still plays with her American Girl doll and watches cartoons, in no way is she ready to understand the “my body, my choice” line of thinking.
I understand that this post may offend some and even come across as a anti-government or backwards. I am conservative Christian wife and mother, registered voter, with a master’s degree in Middle Level Education, so I am not coming at this from an uneducated viewpoint or some misunderstanding.
What do you think of a doctor being able to tell a parent to leave the room during an appointment? Do you think a child should have access to their own medical records and be in control at the age of 12?