The Ohio Supreme Court today moved to protect the privacy of minors’ medical records when the minor is not a party in a lawsuit. The case involves a lawsuit against an Ohio Planned Parenthood and attempts by a teenager’s parents to obtain the medical records not only of their own daughter but of all teenagers seen at that clinic over a ten year period.
“We are pleased that the court blocked the disclosure of the private medical records of teenage patients who are not directly part of a given lawsuit,” said Louise Melling, Director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Adults and teenagers alike need to know when they seek medical care that their private records will not be dragged into someone else’s legal dispute. Confidentiality is at the core of the doctor-patient relationship and must be fiercely protected.”
The court also recognized that given the wealth of detail contained in patient medical records, redaction cannot reliably protect a patient’s privacy.
In June 2008, the ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case asking the court to protect the privacy of minors’ medical records, arguing that the confidentiality of medical records is essential to the doctor-patient relationship, minors’ access to reproductive health care and the right to privacy. The brief was filed on behalf of the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics; Ohio Academy of Family Physicians; Society for Adolescent Medicine; National Association of Social Workers; National Center for Youth Law; Center for Adolescent Health & the Law; Ohio NOW Education and Legal Fund; Ohio Domestic Violence Network; ACTION OHIO Coalition for Battered Women; Break the Cycle; and Women Empowered Against Violence, Inc.; the ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Ohio Supreme Court.
The decision is Roe v. Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio Region No 2009-Ohio-2973.