Pediatricians Often Keep Kids Secrets

The Stir Bloggers

doctorA fascinating New York Times article written by a pediatrician mom presents the dilemma faced by doctors who treat adolescents. Patient confidentiality. When a 7th grader boy told her he was lonely and had no friends at school, her first response was to say let's talk to your parents. Well, the kid would have rather eaten fried worms.

From the article: He wouldn’t have told me this at all, he said, except he thought our conversation was private. The situation at school wasn’t all that bad; he could handle it. He wasn’t in any danger, wasn’t getting hurt, he was just a little lonely. His parents, he said, thought that he was fine, that he had lots of friends, and he wanted to keep it that way.

When treating older adolescents, pediatricians routinely offer confidentiality on many issues, starting with sex and substances. But middle-schoolers are on the border — old enough to be asked some of the same questions, but young enough that it can be less clear what should stay confidential.

For us moms, the difficult question to ponder might be would we rather our kids be forthright with the doctor and silent to us--or simply silent to everyone? It hurts not to know everything about your child, but what if the other option is no one knowing?


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