Consent to Healthcare

.pdf file[printable version]

I do not live with my parents anymore, do I still need their permission to go to the doctor to refill a prescription?
If you are 14 years-old or older and live apart from your parents or legal guardian you can consent to any medically necessary health care.

I am age 14 (or older) and am the parent of a child, do I still need my parent’s permission to go to the doctor to refill a prescription?
If you are age 14 or older and are a parent you can consent to any medically necessary health care.

I am an emancipated minor, can I consent to any care?
Yes, if you are emancipated you may consent to ALL health care evaluations and treatments without the consent of your parent or guardian. A minor can be emancipated for all purposes or only for some purposes, such as for the purpose of consenting to healthcare. For more information about the rights of emancipated youth go to www.pegasuslaw.com

Who is considered a “health care provider”?
It is important to understand that there are many types of health care providers, including: doctors, physician’s assistants, nurses, psychologists, and other staff working with these professionals.

Questions you may want to ask your health care provider:
When you are unsure about things like confidentiality and consent, you can always ask your health care provider. These are some questions you might want to ask:

  • Can I consent to treatment on my own?
  • Are you going to discuss my exam with my parents?
  • How will you contact me?
  • Will the insurance or Medicaid bill that gets sent to my parents show the nature of my exam or tests?
  • Can I consent (agree) to follow up services from you without my parents being involved?
  • What are your policies for reporting abuse and neglect?

What information can never be keep confidential by my health care provider?
Some things cannot be kept confidential. In New Mexico, your health care provider will have to make a report to the state if you are being abused or neglected or if you are going to hurt yourself or someone else.

Can I take the pill without my parents’ consent?
At any age you can consent to reproductive health services such as birth control, HIV/AIDS testing, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy. If you are not sure if you need your parent’s consent or if the information will be kept confidential, ask your doctor about these issues.

You can also call Pegasus Legal Services for Children if you need information about your rights. There are situations where confidentiality is not good. If you are being abused and/or neglected, your health professional (it can be a doctor, a nurse, etc.) will have to report it to the authorities. They will always work with your best interest in mind. If you are sexually active or thinking about becoming sexually active, you can get information on birth control and receive assistance in finding a health care provider that works with minors in your area by calling the New Mexico Department of Health at (505) 841-4100.

What does “consent” mean?
Consent is the legal term for agreeing to health care services. In order to consent to health care, you must be able to understand your condition and the risks and benefits of the treatment proposed by the nurse or doctor.

What does “confidentiality” mean?
Confidentiality is the legal term for when information must be kept private and not shared with others. In some cases, health care providers will have to talk to your parents, even when you can consent to care on your own. But in other cases, health care providers cannot give your parents confidential information without your permission. Health care providers need to know a lot about their patients in order to make sure they are giving good medical advice. Sometimes you might want to keep information to yourself because you are scared of what might happen, but if you do not give your health care providers all of the information about what you need, they cannot give you good medical advice. Even when you have the right to keep information confidential, you may find that it is really helpful to talk to or seek advice from an adult you trust. It can be your teacher, a parent, a doctor, a therapist; the important thing is that you feel comfortable with this person.

Resources:
New Mexico Department of Health (505) 841-4100

DISCLAIMER: This website is provided for informational purposes only. Nothing on this website shall be construed as legal advice nor does the information provided constitute the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. We take no responsibility for errors.