05 June 2014

Medical Records

Several of my friends have posted this article on Facebook this week:
I. Am. The. Mom.

Have you read it yet? Go ahead. I'll be here when you get back.

Did you read it? Ok, let's proceed.

Most of my friends skim over the article and nod along with this mom, fighting for her rights as a parent, accusing the doctor's office of talking to her child about all sorts of horrible things like government propaganda, feminism, and reproductive health (a.k.a. sex). Ohmygosh, not sex! Anything but sex! Wait, she's a mom. There is a good chance she knows what sex is. And her 17-year-old daughter probably knows about it too. And there is also a good chance that her daughter has heard about it and discussed it with people other than her parents. And if she's going to discuss it with someone other than her parents, wouldn't a medical professional whom she trusts be a good person?

Please read the author's two follow-up articles:
Who's in charge?
and
That escalated quickly

First of all, as the author points out, the state law does not actually mandate a private conversation. What it mandates is the teenage patient's access to his own medical records and the right to internet privacy of those records. That state also gives doctors the right to provide reproductive care to a minor without parental consent, but that has been the case for years.

Second of all, so what if the doctor or nurse wants to speak with your teen about, well, *any* medical topic? So what if your teen wants to talk to a medical professional about his own medical health without you there? I saw it well-phrased in someone else's comment (I don't recall whom): What is that nurse going to say to your child in 5 minutes that would undo a lifetime of being brought up under your guidance?

I remember going to the doctor when I was a teenager myself, and my parents gave me a right to privacy. I always wanted them to go back with me when I first went into the room (so I wouldn't be alone and bored, and they would remember the conversation with my doctor better...), but if there had to be an exam or a gown change, they would wait in the waiting room if I asked. I was, and am, a private and modest person. My parents respected that, which made me respect them more.

It is absurd to deny a 17-year-old basically-an-adult the right to a private conversation with her doctor. Your child is her own person. She is going to grow up and have some beliefs that are the same as yours, and some beliefs that are different. That is ok! Love her. Respect her. Teach her how to grow up, how to be responsible and independent. Don't spend your last days with her as a minor trying to push her back down into the little girl that she used to be, totally dependent on you for everything. Trust her to make her own decisions, the right decisions for herself.

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