The right to waive medical confidentiality for minors is generally given to the child's parents (together or separately).
- According to section 19 of The Patient's Rights Law, there is an obligation to maintain medical confidentiality. Therefore, everyone is entitled to medical confidentiality concerning personal medical information.
- By law, in order for a medical care provider to compromise medical confidentiality, which is sometimes necessary for treatment or other purposes, the patient must agree to waive medical confidentiality (unless there is another legal purpose or order for doing so).
Target Audience and Prerequisites
- Minors (children and youth up to age 18) requiring medical or paramedical (i.e. physical or occupational therapy) treatment.
- Minors submitting (usually through their parents) a tort claim or insurance benefits claim, etc.
- Minors who must disclose personal medical information to anyone other than their parents for any reason.
To Whom and How to Apply
- A waiver of medical confidentiality must be submitted for the minor to the treating body or any other relevant body requesting it. This is a violation of the medical confidentiality of the minor.
- Generally, waiving medical confidentiality is done in writing with a specific waiver of medical confidentiality form.
- Organizations or bodies that routinely need to receive or provide patients' or customers' medical information usually have a standard waiver of medical confidentiality form ready for their patients or customers to fill out.
- Through a director circular, the Ministry of Health put out a standard waiver of medical confidentiality form for use in medical facilities.
Stages of the Process
- The General Rule - Minors below the age of 18, as opposed to adults, cannot sign a waiver of medical confidentiality for themselves. Therefore, a waiver of medical confidentiality for a minor requires signed consent of the minor's parents who are the natural guardians.
- In most cases, the signature of one parent is sufficient, but in certain cases, the disclosing medical facility will require both parents to sign a waiver of medical confidentiality.
- The opinion of a minor who is opposed to the disclosure of personal medical information may be considered in light of age, degree of maturity and well-being, and according to the circumstances and situation requiring the disclosure.
Expiration of a waiver of medical confidentiality
- There is no mention in the law regarding a period of validity for waivers of medical confidentiality. The validity is according to issue and not according to time, meaning that if not otherwise indicated on the waiver form, the patient has waived the right to medical confidentiality for an unlimited period of time, but only regarding the issue indicated on the form (i.e. for preparing an insurance policy or starting at a new job).
- The courts sometimes rule that a waiver of medical confidentiality that is too general and without limitations regarding period or scope is invalid.
- Sometimes medical institutions do not honor medical confidentiality waiver forms which are first presented a few years after they are signed.
Preventing a parent who was charged or convicted of sexual or physical abuse of his/her child from receiving medical information
- If one of the parents was convicted of sexual or physical abuse against his/her child, or there is an active criminal investigation against the parent for a crime like this, consent of that parent is not required for medical care of the child and that parent will not be given medical information about the treatment of that child. For more information see Preventing participation of a parent who is charged or convicted of physical or sexual abuse of his/her child from being involved in the child's medical treatment.
- The parent may appeal to the Family Court to request that his/her consent be required and to receive information about the child's medical treatment. Very specific circumstances are necessary in order for the court to accept this request from the parent.
- If parents do not agree to disclosing medical information and it may significantly harm the minor's well-being, it is possible that the minor will be defined as a minor in need (kateen nizkak) by social services, and a welfare officer (a juvenile law social worker) will be assigned to handle the case. It is possible that the minor's case will be brought to court, or that a legal guardian will be appointed to represent the minor in court. For more information, see: Guardianship of Children.
- According to Israeli law, there are a number of cases where minors may choose to undergo medical care without or in addition to parental consent: :*Termination of Pregnancy
- In some of these cases, minors may sign a waiver of medical confidentiality on their own behalf.
- For more information, see: Medical Care Minors May Receive without Parental Consent.
- Original information written as part of IDC-Herzliya's legal clinic to assist children and youth at risk, in cooperation with ELEM.
- English translation and maintenance by The Shira Pransky Project.