An exploration of the ethical, legal and developmental issues in the care of an adolescent patient

Daniel Summers, Ivanya Alpert, Thaina Rousseau-Pierre, Mara Minguez, Simone Manigault, Sharon Edwards, Anne Nucci, Angela Diaz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Providers of health care to adolescent patients face numerous challenges. In addition to increased risk for many health problems, adolescent patients may bring complex ethical, legal and developmental questions to bear as they seek medical services. This article describes the case of one such adolescent patient and discusses some of the attendant issues faced by her physician. For example, proyiding reproductive health care to teenage patients without the knowledge of parents or guardians requires familiarity on the part of providers with relevant state and federal law. Additionally, providers must be aware of financial barriers and they need to acquaint themselves with available services such as New York State's Family Planning Benefit Program. Attention to their patients' stages of cognitive and emotional development should inform providers' advice to adolescents, and an understanding of the importance that supportive adult relationships play during adolescence is essential to fostering healthy development. Open communication between adolescent patients and their parents or guardians should be encouraged, while maintaining the primary obligation of providing confidential care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)592-595
Number of pages4
JournalMount Sinai Journal of Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent health
  • Cognitive development
  • Confidentiality
  • Ethics
  • Health insurance


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