Kirsten Hawkins, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, and Ryan Pasternak, M.D., M.P.H., will lead an
interactive group forum titled “Adolescent Privacy and the Electronic Health Record
(I3035)” from 8:30-10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 5, in room W224F of the convention center.
Dr. Hawkins is program director, Georgetown University Hospital/Pediatrics in Washington,
D.C., and a member of the AAP Section on Adolescent Health. Dr. Pasternak is associate
professor of clinical pediatrics, division head, general ambulatory pediatrics and
adolescent medicine, LSU Health School of Medicine, New Orleans.
In the following Q&A, Dr. Hawkins discusses session highlights and why pediatricians
Q: What are the key topics you will be covering during the session?
A: We will review confidentiality, consent, and the mature and emancipated minor as
well as clinical cases regarding teens and confidential health care delivery. The
session also will address issues with confidentiality in the digital age of electronic
Q: Why is this an important topic for pediatricians to learn more about?
A: Pediatricians have an obligation to understand their local laws (and state/federal
laws) about confidentiality. Furthermore, they can facilitate collaborative decision-making,
respect adolescent’s evolving autonomy and advocate within their workplace to educate
and protect adolescent confidentiality.
Q: How did you get interested in adolescent privacy issues?
A: As an adolescent medicine physician, I’ve always been interested in adolescent
confidentiality. Over the course of my clinical practice, I have seen how the implementation
of electronic health records has created challenges for the unique privacy concerns
of adolescents. From 2011-’17, I served as a member of the Society of Adolescent Health
and Medicine’s subcommittee on electronic health records and helped draft the policy
statement Recommendations for Electronic Health Record Use for Delivery of Adolescent Health
Care. (Dr. Pasternak also helped draft the policy.)
Q: What is the take-home message of the session?
A: Adolescent privacy is quite complex given the various stakeholders involved and
varying legal requirements that often differ from state to state. Shared electronic
health records and patient portals have created unforeseen challenges in adolescent
health and privacy.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
A: As providers, we can explain the importance of confidentiality with our patients
and families and seek parents’ support for confidential communications.