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A minor is any person under the age of 18. In general, a minor's age determines whether they are able to access health care services independently or if parental or guardian consent is required. Additionally, some services that a minor can access independently can be kept confidential, while others cannot. This can be helpful information in order to plan the most appropriate health services for children and youth.
Consent is an acknowledgement (usually in writing) of any or all of the following:
All consent should be informed consent (ORS 677.097). Informed consent for health services should be verbal or in writing and includes: a description of the treatment the patient will receive, a description of alternative treatments and a description of any risks involved with the treatment.
Minors who are 15 years or older are able to consent to medical and dental services without parental consent. This includes hospital care, as well as medical, dental, optometric and surgical diagnostic care. This would include services such as:
A minor who is 14 years or older may access outpatient mental health, drug or alcohol treatment (excluding methadone) without parental consent. These services may include:
Providers are expected to involve parents by the end of the minor's mental health, drug or alcohol treatment unless:
For mental health and chemical dependency services, the provider may disclose health information to a minor's parent or guardian per ORS 109.680 if:
Minors of any age are allowed to access birth control-related information and services as well as testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV, without parental consent.
Oregon law does not give individuals the ability to consent to sex until the age of 18; however, there are a few important points to consider. Sexual activity is a normal part of development, and according to the 2009 Oregon Healthy Teens Survey, 1 of 11th grade students:
Ensuring that young adults have proper resources and information on sexual activity is important for them to make healthy choices.
Oregon law does not give minors a "right" to confidentiality or parents a "right" to disclosure. However, federal law may offer additional protections in some circumstances. When a minor self-consents for health care services, providers are encouraged to use their best clinical judgment in deciding whether to share information with the parent or guardian (ORS 109.650).*‡ However, most people, minors included, expect some level of confidentiality when receiving health care services.
Providers and adolescent patients should discuss usual confidentiality practices, as well the types of information that providers are required to report. This will have an impact on a minor's willingness to seek health care services they may have otherwise avoided. Rules that providers or facilities may have about minor confidentiality and disclosure are not intended to prohibit or discourage minors from accessing needed health care services, but to encourage proper support in the decision-making process.
Oregon law does protect providers from civil liability when a diagnosis or treatment is provided to an authorizedminor without the consent of the parent or legal guardian of the minor. (ORS 109.685).