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    Can I go to the doctor without my parents′ permission?

    Date: 09.04.07 | by Judge Tom.

    Most doctors, health care professionals and hospitals require written permission from your parents or legal guardian before seeing you. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule.

    The first is called medical neglect. Since your parents are responsible for your care, if they refuse to take you to the doctor, or if they fail to give you medicine that your doctor has prescribed, the state may step in and see that your medical needs are met.

    Photo by _Heather_r_ (Flickr_)


    If you, a sibling, or a friend is a victim of medical neglect, it should be reported to Child Protective Services (CPS). If there′s a risk of bodily harm or injury, or someone′s life is in danger, the state will get involved. When you call CPS, ask to speak with a social worker and fully explain the situation.

    If you′re under eighteen and don′t live at home, you may be able to obtain medical care without  your parents’ consent or them knowing. You′re allowed to go to the doctor on your own, for example, if you′re emancipated (legally free) under the laws of your state, or if you′re married or a parent. You can arrange for your own health care if you′re pregnant or were sexually assaulted—whether your parents know about your circumstances or not. There are also laws for when a teenager is not required to get parental consent for an abortion.

    ambulanceIf your parents are unavailable in an emergency situation and you need medical care or surgery, health care professionals may treat you. If your parents are going out of town, they should leave written consent for the person you′re staying with to take you to the doctor if necessary. Photo by Emonn(Flickr)

    Due to an increase in substance abuse by young people, a number of states have lowered the age for treatment and counseling without parental consent. In some states, a twelve-year-old may independently obtain alcohol and drug counseling. If you′re in a treatment program under these circumstances, your identity is kept confidential and is disclosed to others only with your consent.

    Teenagers can also receive health care on their own for the diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as herpes, gonorrhea, and syphilis. In most parts of the country, you have these same rights regarding diagnosis for HIV and AIDS. At very little or no cost, you may go to a clinic for diagnosis and counseling. Some family planning clinics, for example, charge $20 for an HIV/STI test and counseling. The cost for treatment may also be on a sliding scale basis, or you may be eligible for public assistance.

    For specific information on the laws in your state about seeking medical care, contact your library, health department, or family doctor. Check out the issue of costs for health care. Who is legally responsible for your bills if you seek treatment without your parents′ consent? Find this out in advance! The number for your local public health agency is either online or in the white pages of your telephone directory, or ask directory assistance for help.


    Coping When You or a Friend Is HIV-Positiv by Pat Kelly (Hazeldon
    Publishing & Educational Services, 1997). What to say and do.

    An Encyclopedia of AIDS: A Social, Political, Cultural, and Scientific Record
    of the HIV Epidemic
    edited by Raymond Smith (Penguin, 2001). Multiple
    authors discuss the effect of AIDS on politics, culture, the individual, and
    the law.

    Everything You Need to Know About STDs by Samuel Woods, Jr. (Rosen
    Publishing Group, 1997). Facts and figures about sexually transmitted diseases,
    information about causes and prevention, and sound advice about
    risky behavior that makes teens vulnerable.

    Living in a World with AIDS by Anna Forbes (PowerKids Press, 1997). An
    introduction to AIDS, how people become infected, and how to avoid

    The Body: An AIDS and HIV Information Resource
    Information, resources, support organizations, hotlines, insight from experts, forums for connecting with others, and much more. A comprehensive, up-to-the-minute site.

    I Wanna Know
    A Web site maintained by the American Social Health Association, this is a reliable resource for information on sexuality and STDs. Learn how to prevent STDs, ask an expert questions via email, and check out other straight-talk sites listed on the links page.

    National HIV/AIDS Hotline
    1-800-342-AIDS (1-800-342-2437)
    Spanish: 1-800-344-SIDA (1-800-344-7432)
    Confidential 24-hour information and referral hotline sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    National STD Hotline
    Information and referral hotline sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Sex, Etc.
    A Web site by and for teens, this is a great place to read about the experiences of others who are going through some of the same things that you might be. Get the scoop on dating, relationships, sex, STDs, and more.

    Teenagers & HIV/AIDS
    At the main menu, click on “Women & Children with HIV.” Then scroll down the menu on that page and click on “Teenagers & HIV/AIDS” to find facts about teens with HIV/AIDS, information about prevention and education programs, and a guide to resources. Part of the large HIVpositive.com site.

    This site from Planned Parenthood gives teens solid information on sexuality so that they are empowered to make responsible choices. Incorporating advice from teen contributors, this is a hip place the get the lowdown on all issues related to sexual health.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    11 Comments subscribe to these comments.

    • Ellie
      Wed, 14 Apr 2010 at 05:39

      Ok. So i’ve been suffering from depression but haven’t let my parent’s know. Any suggestions on how to break the news to them and/or how to get meds with out them knowing. It sounds weird, but there’s a long story to it and i don’t want them to know….
      Dear Ellie: Obtaining meds without the consent of your parents may result in further depression, especially if you break the law doing so and end up in jail or juvenile detention. Try talking with your parents about what is going on in your life. Or speak with another adult that you trust, either at school, church, or a local family counselor. There are also hotlines and helplines you can call, anonymously if you prefer, for assistance. Don’t go on suffering when here is help nearby, with just a phone call or a talk with the right person. We wish you well, Ellie. Call the Boys Town [for girls, too] hotline any hour of the day or night – 1-800-448-3000.[This is information only – not legal advice]

    • Ashley Nicole
      Sun, 08 Aug 2010 at 07:46

      well i have a question?
      okay i have a 1 year old baby and i pretty much moved out of my mom’s house, with her knowing and it being okay. So i was wondering if i would go to sign up to see a doctor, would i still need to have parents permission for him/her to see me? and give me meds?
      Dear Ashley: The answer to your questions depend on your age, your legal status and the laws of your state. We assume you’re a minor. If you have been emancipated by law, then you have all the rights of an adult. Otherwise you need to check what your state says about medical care and treatment for minors. Try Googling the name of your state and “minors medical consents” or “minors medical care.” It is possible that you still need your parent’s consent to obtain health care for you and your child. Good luck.
      [This is information only – not legal advice].

    • edward
      Sun, 12 Dec 2010 at 01:04

      If my parents are unavailable to take me to a doctor for a check up can I just go by myself?
      Dear Edward: You may need to provide written permission from your parents before the doctor will see you. Perhaps you could try calling the doctor’s office ahead of time and explain the circumstances and find out whether or not there will be a problem. Good luck.
      [This is information only – not legal advice.]

    • mollie
      Sat, 02 Jun 2012 at 05:03

      Ok, i am a 15 year old girl and i had dysthymia deppression and I don’t want to say anything to my mom she has went through a hard life and to know her only daughter is sad and depressed would kill her , do i need her for me to go and talk to a medical provider about this?
      Dear Mollie: It’s very thoughtful and considerate of you to try to spare your Mom from worrying about you; however, she most likely would appreciate you being honest with her and opening up to her so she can be a mother to you and be there for love and support. Since you are a minor, you may need your mother’s permission before receiving any type of medical treatment especially if medication is going to be prescribed. The specific laws in your state will come into play. You could call the doctor’s office where you would be making an appointment and ask them if it would be an issue for you to show up for an appointment without a parent or guardian. You also could talk to your school counselor about this. Again, it’s likely that your Mom will feel a sense of relief in knowing that you are being open with her and not hiding anything. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • Ashlynn
      Fri, 28 Sep 2012 at 11:49

      I am 15 in the state of Texas. I have Gastroparesis which makes it hard for me to keep myself nourished or hydrated. If I feel dehydrated and need I think I need IV fluids (this has happened numouris times) my doctor told me and my parents if you need them I’ll write you a referral, but my parents refuse to take me. Can I get another adult to take me to my doctor without my parents consent?
      Dear Ashlynn: We suggest you speak with an adult you trust about this situation. Medical neglect is a legitimate reason in all states for Child Protective Services to step in. Before this happens, however, maybe another adult can speak with your parents so they understand the legal consequences of inaction. You could talk with the school nurse or counselor for advice as well. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Chelsea
      Mon, 10 Jun 2013 at 01:38

      I have a question? Im 15 years old and four months pregnant and I have a neglecting mother who will not take me to the doctor and I have a uti and im not sure if I can have my boyfriends mom take me to the doctor without my mom knowing? She doesnt like that they want to help me and I think she may be tryng to make sure my pregnancy ends. Im also trying to be emancipated and im just very scared of her and not sure what to do and my boyfreind wants to call dfs on her but I tell him im too scared. Im really unsure what I can do… Any advise? And what are my rights?
      Dear Chelsea: As a pregnant teenager you do have certain rights under your state’s laws. Medical care is one of those rights especially for the baby.You can check with your local Planned Parenthood office to learn about your rights or go on their website for information. You’ve probably already tried but a calm discussion about your pregnancy with your mother might help her understand how you feel and what you want to do. If you have a close relative that you trust, maybe the three of you can sit down and discuss the future. Good luck and stay healthy.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • marty kindell
      Tue, 15 Oct 2013 at 02:18

      Dear Marty: If you called for medical attention and consented verbally or in writing to diagnosis and treatment, it’s unlikely your rights were violated by a finger prick. You could always consult a personal injury attorney for advice. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • ronald
      Fri, 08 Aug 2014 at 11:51

      I went to see a doctor for the runs diarrhea he asked to check my stomach i said yes, the doctor asked me to lie on the bed in the doctors room at the surgery so I did he pushed on my stomach 3 or 4 times then he put his hand around my penis and grabed my balls, I removed his hand and said dont touch me there, doctors reply you’ve been molested before, I never give promision for him to grab my private parts, I made a complaint with the managers at the doctors, which went no where, I got 2 letters the doctor apologizing for not telling me about him putting his hand down my pants and touching my private parts and all so he had no glaves, I reported him to the medical board they give him a caution only, should i go to police a charge him
      Dear Ronald: You certainly can report the incident to the police and then they will decide how to proceed. If they do an investigation, they may be in touch with the medical board who you already reported it to. The police will probably let you know if an investigation on their part is appropriate at this time or if the board is more likely to conduct an investigation first. Good luck.
      (Check our Resource Directory for more help and resources in your area. This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • mom
      Wed, 20 Aug 2014 at 08:17

      im a mom and have a 16 years old daughter, we are from nevada, I took her to the dr because she was not felling well, but so we were at the doctors office and the nurse ask her to provide a pee sample, and i notice that it tool a long time after a while my daughter comes back to the room, it happened that the doctor took her to another room to talk to her with out my consent to talk to her is this ok. is this behavior from the doctor. i knew what we were there for i made the appt.. I did not say any thing at the time because i did not want to make a sene or put up a show or emberice my daughter but im upset about this.
      Dear Mom: Here is a link to the laws in your state concerning a minor’s ability to provide consent to his/her own medical treatment. Make sure the law is current though since laws are constantly changing. Basically, minors in Nevada do have some ability to provide “informed consent” – in other words, to consent to their own medical treatment without the need for parental consent. This may be why the doctor spoke to your daughter in private as well as the possible confidentiality laws that could come into play. You could always contact the office and calmly voice your concerns and ask for an explanation. Good luck.
      (Check our Resource Directory for more help and resources in your area. This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • ashley
      Thu, 30 Oct 2014 at 09:55

      hello judge
      so my sister is 16 and a pregnant runaway (she ran because of abuse at home and no one ever believed her just to clear up the question a little more) can she go to a hospital to give birth in Florida and not have them contact are parents?
      Dear Ashley: That will depend on the specific laws in Florida and the hospital’s policies. We don’t provide legal advice to our readers since we are an education site for and about teenagers and the laws that affect them.
      We suggest that your sister contact Planned Parenthood where she is now or in Florida and ask about her rights in this situation. Good luck to her and her baby.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Kevin
      Sun, 05 Apr 2015 at 10:06

      I fell down on concrete but my parents refuse to take me to the doctor unless I wait 6 weeks. I have been noticing the pain from the accident is getting a lot worse in just the first 3 weeks. How do I get help without my neglecting parents getting involved?
      Dear Kevin: Whether or not you will be able to receive treatment from a doctor will depend on the laws in your state. Generally, getting treatment without parental consent is reserved for certain cases like emergency treatment for life-threatening conditions. Perhaps you can start talking about your pain and symptoms with the school nurse and see what he/she has to say. If the nurse believes that you need further medical treatment, he/she may be in a better position to convince your parents to get you the treatment you need. You can also try talking to the school counselor as they may be able to refer you to resources in your area or provide assistance for your circumstances. Good luck.
      (Check our Resource Directory for more help and resources in your area. This is information only – not legal advice.)

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