By Corinne Murdock |
A new law prohibiting restrictions to parental access of children’s records will take effect at the end of this month, on September 23. Even so, health care facilities are maintaining policies upholding their minor patients’ confidentiality. HB2161 will upend decades of common practice for Arizona health care providers.
The history of confidentiality in health care for minors leads back to the inception of the Title X family planning program in 1970 and the ensuing controversy over confidential reproductive health care services for minors. Beginning with the Clinton administration in 2000, the federal government issued privacy protections for medical records that extended to minors.
Since then, federal precedent has informed and shaped Arizona’s health care system. One of the most recent examples of this occurred in late June, when HonorHealth implemented a policy allowing its 12 to 17-year-old patients to shield their medical records from parental view. According to the Arizona Daily Independent, parents don’t have full access to their child’s online medical records.
Meanwhile, Banner Health precludes parental access to all of their 12- to 17-year old child’s records without the child’s consent. One Arizona mother, Jacquie Wedding, felt the effects of this policy recently. In a viral Tiktok video, Wedding shared the following email sent to her by Banner Health shortly after her children’s 12th birthday:
“Please be informed that access to your child’s account has been revoked. The reason for this is because the child is now between the ages of 12 and 17. Based on state law, a minor child may consent to certain treatments without parental consent. Records of those treatments are protected and may not be released to a parent without the minor patient’s consent. As Banner Health is not able to separate those records, we do not provide proxy access to MyBanner for minor patients between the ages of 12 and 17.”
Banner Health and HonorHealth are both part of the Health System Alliance of Arizona (HSAA), an advocacy organization that also includes Dignity Health and Tenet Healthcare Corporation.
These HSAA members align with Arizona Medical Association (AMA) standards on confidentiality for adolescent treatment. AMA advised health care providers to limit parental access to their child’s records.
“Providing confidential care to teenagers for certain personal issues is essential to providing appropriate health care and helping them develop autonomy by encouraging them to be responsible for their own health care,” stated the guide. “In addition, by providing confidential care, the clinician can develop a trusting relationship with the teen.”
One of the AMA guide authors was Veenod Chulani: the doctor who founded and currently leads the Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH) Gender Support Program, one of the only comprehensive gender transition programs for minors in the state.
PCH allows minors aged 12 to 17 to grant or prohibit parental access to their records.