The first day of school always results in a large stack of forms sitting on my desk at home, waiting to be completed and returned. Sifting through this year’s stack, I found a request for updated immunization records for my 7th and 9th graders, purportedly based upon a recent change in the law. Priding myself on my efficiency, I quickly logged into my online account with my health provider and began to pull up the records I needed. As I looked over the webpage to find the appropriate link, however, I was taken aback by a notice telling me that, while I could get to basic medical information for my children, such as immunization records, my overall access to medical records for my children (as they are between the ages of 11 and 17) was “limited.”
“Limited?” In what way could I, as the parent, the responsible party for payment of the bill, for care and transport of the child, for all things keeping them alive, be limited in my access to their medical records? As an attorney, I felt that I had a pretty good grasp on the principle that I had the legal right to know all and see all with regard to my kiddos until they turn 18. But just to be sure, I asked around the office the next day. Had anyone heard of this before? Surely this was wrong…right? And research ensued.
As it turns out, my medical provider indeed knew more than I did about a parent’s or legal guardian’s right to the medical records of their minor child or ward. HIPAA (the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) provides that parents and legal guardians are NOT entitled to access the medical records of their minor child/ward if state law allows that minor to consent to treatment without parental consent. In such a case, parents have no right to access those records regarding treatment and medical care. In the State of Michigan, children under the age of 18 may consent to medical advice and treatment for contraceptives from family planning agencies, HIV, venereal disease, pregnancy care, and prenatal care without their parents’ knowledge and consent.
All parents and legal guardians of minors should be aware of the state of the law on this matter. Talk to your physician about your personal preferences for your children should these issues arise, and prepare accordingly. If you would like more information regarding parental rights to medical records of minor children, please feel free contact us, and we would be happy to assist you.