Ask the CPCMG Pediatrician: Teens and Medical Privacy

Our pediatrician asked me to leave the exam room in order to talk to my teen alone. What gives? I’m the parent!

Don’t worry – parents aren’t totally out of the loop. We still want to talk to you! Teens (patients ages 12-18) may have concerns that they’re not comfortable discussing in front of their parents. We also know that teens want privacy, and that it’s likely they are not telling their parents everything that’s going on in their lives.

Our goal is to provide your teen with the best information presented in a non-judgmental way.  We talk about sensitive topics they might not want to discuss with you – this could include sex, relationships, problems at school, alcohol, tobacco and drugs, tattoos and piercings. We also encourage teens to talk to their parents about these issues, but we want them to know that we’re here if they need us. This is a first step for your teen to take accountability for their personal health and well-being, and make good decisions based on accurate information that we have provided.  To that end, we now offer teens age 12 and over their own My Chart account.

Also, CPCMG wants both parents and teens to understand the following:  While our conversations with your teen regarding many of the topics above are confidential, if we become concerned that a teen’s life or safety may be in question, we will discuss the situation with parents to the extent that California law allows us to do so.

We value your input as a parent. For example, adolescence is a time to start talking about mental health. It’s normal for some teenagers to be over-emotional but we may ask you about possible unusual behaviors. Has your son stopped sleeping or does your daughter suddenly sleep all day? Has your outgoing child turned into a loner? Has your child suddenly gained or lost a significant amount of weight? These behavior changes can be a sign of any number of serious psychiatric disorders that first appear in adolescence.

Adolescence is also a time for a new round of immunizations. Teenagers often need boosters for vaccines against tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough and meningitis. There’s also a vaccine that protects against Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually-transmitted disease that causes cervical, oral and esophageal cancer. We will work with you to ensure your teen is up-to-date on all vaccinations and screenings as well as annual and sports physicals.  Please note that teens are able to consent to the HPV vaccine as well as Hepatitis B vaccine.

CPCMG pediatricians look forward to working with both parents and teens in order to keep your teen healthy and thriving!