Releasing a young child's records

September 19, 2003

Does the HIPAA privacy rule give parents the right to see or amend the medical records of a child legally considered a young adult?

Q: Does the HIPAA privacy rule give parents the right to see or amend the medical records of a child legally considered a young adult?

A: Generally, no. Once a child reaches the age of majority, typically 18 to 21 years of age, a parent is no longer entitled to see or amend the child's medical record. If a parent continues to pay for the child's care, however, some information may be disclosed so the parent can obtain payment from an insurer. You're permitted to exercise your reasonable professional judgment about when to disclose information. For example, if a young adult doesn't object to a parent accompanying her to the exam room, you can reasonably assume that disclosing health information to the parent is permissible.

When in doubt, ask your young adult patient for written permission. Also consider modifying your patient intake forms to authorize communication with specific relatives and significant others.