Recent polls of adolescent patients (under the age of 18) have shown a tendency not to seek medical care or treatment if that care cannot be independent of a parent or guardian. Among those patients polled, many of them stated that there were specific topics that they do not want their parents to know about. These topics include sexual activity, presence or treatment of STDs, and alcohol or drug abuse. Many polled said that they would prefer to have no treatment at all if notification of their parents was required.
As an LPN, some of your patients will be younger than the legal age of consent for treatment. Knowing the law and how it affects what information you can or cannot provide is crucial. The interviewer wants to see that you are not only familiar with the laws in your region, but that you can explain legal issues to your patients in a way that they understand.
"I have had patients in the past who did not want their parents to know certain test results. While I understand some situations may cause an underage patient to feel reservation about disclosing information, I would explain that, because of their age, I cannot keep the information regarding their test results from the parents or guardians."
"According to my recent LPN education, while many minor consent laws contain explicit provisions regarding the disclosure of information to parents, some do not allow disclosure without the minor's permission. Others, still, leave the decision about disclosure to the physician's discretion. With all of that in mind, I believe that every LPN should be aware of their state's laws regarding privacy and also know the guidelines set in place within their facility. When in doubt, it will be important that I gain clarification from my charge nurse or attending physician."
"Many states have laws allowing minors to give their own consent for certain kinds of health care, such as contraception, pregnancy-related issues, STDs, substance abuse, and mental health care. Most states also have laws that allow minors to consent for care if emancipated, mature, living apart from their parents, or older than 16 years of age. Many of these laws have been in place for several decades. There is wide acceptance in this state that if an adolescent is allowed to give consent for healthcare, the information concerning that care is considered confidential. For this reason, I would respect the underage patients' wishes. If there were a gray area, I would consult my supervisor for clarification."