Provider Tips for Discussing Conditional Confidentiality

  • Be direct: Discuss confidentiality and the conditions under which it might be breached at the beginning of the visit. 
  • Keep it simple: Tailor your discussion to the youth’s age and context.
  • Communicate care and concern: Frame your need to breach confidentiality in the context of “getting them the help that they might need,” rather than using the law, policy or phrase “I am a mandated child abuse reporter,” as a reason to breach confidentiality.
  • Assure two-way communication: Let your patient know if you are going to share information that they told you in confidence.
  • Know the law.
  • Check for understanding: Ask the patient to explain what they understand about conditional confidentiality.
  • Document your communications, understanding and actions in the medical record.

Adapted from Second edition: Duplessis V, Goldstein S and Newlan S, (2010) Understanding Confidentiality and Minor Consent in California: A Module of Adolescent Provider Toolkit. Adolescent Health Working Group, California Adolescent Health Collaborative.

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