The Westwind

Doctors should be more careful about getting information from teen patients

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When a minor makes a doctor’s appointment, the doctor will say “Do you want (said parent) in the room?” but simply asking this question answers it. If the teenager says no, the parent will know they have not been up to good things. So rather than asking the kid if that’s what they want, the doctor should simply tell the parent or guardian to step out of the room.

Any reasonable teenager, in this case, would not say yes to the parent stepping out of the room because then the parent would know that their kid has something to hide. So when the infamous question “Do you want (said parent) in the room?” is asked, the teenager is likely to feel pressured and say “I don’t care,” “whatever,” or “it’s fine.”

In an article about teens lying about drug use by Joanne Barker, it says that the fact that teens lie about drug use and parents believe them delays treatment. So really, if a teen feels pressured in the doctor’s office and lies about drugs drinking or sexual activity, it is only causing harm to them. Therefore the doctor should simply tell said guardian to step out of the room so the doctors can get the information they need, and the teen can feel safe to share.  

Some people might be thinking, “that can’t be true,” but here are the facts. Dr. John Klein says that about half of American teenagers have never visited a doctor without a parent or guardian present.

Some parents may be hesitant or scared to give their kid the chance to their own privacy.

“They still need their family’s involvement, but a good way of phrasing it might be, ‘When do you think your son or daughter will be ready to have some responsibility surrounding his or her medical care?’” Klein said.

And he also says the most common age that parents and teenagers agree to these semi-private or private doctor visits is 16 or 18, although clinicians prefer the age of 13.

Dr. Cora Breuner of the Seattle Children’s Hospital and a chairwoman for the Adolescence Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics says, “There is a lot at stake in us getting it right. They (teenagers) deserve to be heard, they deserve to have a voice and they deserve to be able to talk to their provider alone.”

So yes, all in all, teenagers should get the chance to talk to their doctor alone, without feeling pressured with a parent in the room. They should get the chance to open up about things that could help their health, and sometimes that is not possible with a parent in the room. The simple solution is to tell the parent to leave, giving the teenager a chance to tell the truth.

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