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8/26/2005
10:41 AM
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E-Health Records Off-Limits To Parents Of Teens

Parents don't have automatic access to their teenagers' electronic medical records, and perhaps they shouldn't.

Parents don't have automatic access to their teenagers' electronic medical records, and perhaps they shouldn't.In a column (subscription required), The Wall Street Journal's Laura Landro writes of a complex patchwork of federal and state laws that allow adolescents to seek confidential family-planning and mental-health services without their parents' consent. That makes teens' health records off-limits to parents, especially if those records are stored electronically.

Advances in technology have changed the way we act in today's society. Those achievements also have had a direct impact on the dynamics of family life.

With paper records, it's easier to separate mental-health and sexual activity records from other medical papers, giving parents access to much of their children's medical history. Computerizing an individual's health history, with the ability to easily cross-reference different records, makes separating the forbidden from the allowed more difficult. Until a technical solution is devised, limiting access to older teens' medical records by parents should stand.

As a parent of two older teenagers, I'm concerned about the health and welfare of my kids, and want access to their medical records to help guide them in making the right decisions. And, I have no doubt that my son and daughter would sign any waivers to open those records to my wife and me. We've developed a bond of trust over the years, and have rewarded that trust with freedoms.

True, not all parents have that type of of relationship with their children. Each family is unique. But if we extend privacy rights to older teens, we teach our children to be responsible adults. Isn't that what's parenting is all about?

What's your take? Should parents have complete access or should there be limits? Please take our poll and share your opinion.

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