parenting

“My Body, My Choice”

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.

In another case, a Michigan mom, felt that her child’s doctor took the HIPAA privacy policy too far and she felt violated. She was told that it was mandatory that the nurse or doctor would speak privately to her son alone and that she was not allowed into the room at that point.

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?

 

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12 thoughts on ““My Body, My Choice”

  1. This is insane to me. I know quite a bit about HIPAA policies but this is news to me seeing as to how I’ve only worked in nursing homes. I honestly don’t think that it is safe. I honestly could understand once the child reaches 17 years of age, but not 12.

  2. Well, I never thought of Hppa that way before. You bet your sweet bippy, I do now! Holy crow. My daughter is 7! She isn’t going to be ready to make medical decisions for herself in five years. I was in my mid- twenties before I felt like I didn’t need my parents guidance for every step of the process for major medical issues. Heck, I’m almost 46 and my mom and sister helped with my recent medical procedures. This is a sneaky way for the government to speak to our children on issues that they really have no place in.

  3. Yes, The HIPPA laws sometimes make it hard to deal with the doctors office for any family, however there is logic behind them.
    Your husband has to give prior permission for you to have access. Yes, to some that doesn’t make sense, your married, you live together. But there is a VERY good reason for this. We, as your doctors office, won’t always know the status of your marriage. For all we know a couple could be in the process of divorce and one spouse is just trying to get information to use to harm the others reputation in court (seen this happen). Or, we had a patient at one time, who yes, was legally married, however was trying to get away from an emotionally and physically abusive husband. This husband found out which doctor she was seeing and contacted us trying to get information about her to try and find out where she was living. Until we mentioned it to her, we had NO IDEA what her situation was. Honestly, in most cases spouses don’t mind sharing information with each other, but in cases like that woman, us not following the HIPPA law could have led to her being hurt, or worse.
    Also, you say that In some cases, like child abuse cases,you understand for the child’s safety that a they be able to ask the parent leave in order to speak to the doctor yet you don’t think its ok for every child. But how is the doctor supposed to know in which cases this is necessary without giving every child this opportunity?
    Now having said all that, do I think allowing a 12 year old to have sole access to their medical records? Absolutely not. A 12 year old is not even remotely old enough to make medical decisions. (I’m not sure where you are from but as far as I have ever been taught you are considered a minor until you are 18 years old and until then, your parents have access to everything.) But I do strongly believe in the HIPPA laws. Yes, sometimes they are a pain in the ass and there is a little extra paperwork. But remember, they are there to protect you. Not just from random average Joe, but from anyone who may intend to do harm. You may not have to worry about that, but from someone who has seen it on more than one occasion, some people do have to worry and these laws, as silly as they seem sometimes, could potentially save their life.
    Just some insight looking at the laws from another perspective. Sorry I wrote you a book.

  4. Oh my gosh. My oldest is 3.5 so I had no idea this was even a thing. I mean, I DO understand that if there is abuse going on or if your parents are refusing you access to birth control, then that’s a different circumstance. However… TWELVE?!?!?!?! Way. Too. Young.

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