Ensure Access to All your Child's Medical Records!
With the passing of SB 1419, beginning January 1, 2023, representatives of minors, age 12 years and older, will be prohibited from inspecting minors’ patient records that relate to sensitive medical services the minor has consented to without their parent or guardian's consent. In California, over the past 20 years, laws have been passed which allow 12+ year old minors to consent to medical care related to the prevention or treatment of pregnancy, including abortion, mental health treatment, drug and alcohol treatment, the treatment or prevention of STDs and/or the treatment of infectious diseases, without the need for parental consent or knowledge. While A Voice for Choice Advocacy believes that parents and guardians should have input into their children's medical care, these are laws that are already in place. The passing of SB 1419 makes these treatments even more secretive.
Other than the fundamental right of parents to know their medical records, there may be times where a minor has an adverse reaction to a medication or in rare instances may die under physician care. In these cases, a parent would not be able to gain access to their children’s medical records to understand the background and help them. They would also not be able to gain access to file a lawsuit or compensation claim, which a 12+ year old minor would be too young to do. A parent or guardian would have to go to court to subpoena the records, potentially delaying care.
A Voice for Choice Advocacy wants to Empower You to ensure, if you are a parent or guardian, that communication between the parent/guardian, child and their medical provider remains open and intact when it comes to their medical care. A Voice for Choice Advocacy recommends the following:
- Talk to your 12+ year old children about what medical procedures they are able to consent to on their own; that any medical treatment can have side effects; why it is important to talk with you about medical treatments they are considering before they consent to them in case they have adverse events; that they may be coerced and feel bullied into certain treatments and that they can say "no" or "not right now." The key is to have an open dialogue with your children about what medical treatment they may consent to, and therefore pressured into, and the potential consequences of those actions.
- Have your child create and sign a medical release letter that legally gives their parents and guardian full access to their medical records. A Voice for Choice Advocacy has developed two sample letters for this purpose.
One is informal designed to be a natural, easygoing letter in a child's own words. Your child may wish to use it because so that the provider does not suspect a parent was writing this for a child.
The other is more formal and lawyerlike. Your child may wish to use it, because it sounds like you consulted with a lawyer and knows your rights. It is more specific and will be more difficult for a provider to see any ambiguity.
Use whichever one your child feels more comfortable with, knowing your provider: https://avoiceforchoiceadvocacy.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Sample-Letters-to-Share-Medical-Records-102622.pdf
Note: These documents and recommendations are advisable for 12+ year old minors who have the cognitive ability to consent or decline treatment.