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General practitioners' competence and confidentiality determinations with a minor who requests the oral contraceptive pill
journal contributionposted on 2005-01-01, 00:00 authored by Terence Bartholomew, T Carvalho
The right of minors to make medical treatment decisions is an issue that is not explicitly addressed in the legislation of most Australian jurisdictions. While recent common law decisions allow competent minors to consent to treatment, current legislation in Victoria does not provide adequate guidelines on how competence is to be measured. It is also unclear whether the duty of confidentiality is extended to competent minors. The current study explored general practitioners' competence and confidentiality decisions with a hypothetical 14-year-old patient who requests the oral contraceptive pill (OCP). Questionnaires were sent to 1,000 Victorian general practitioners, 305 of whom responded. General practitioners were asked to determine whether "Liz" was competent to request the OCP, and whether they would maintain her confidentiality. A total of 81% of respondents found the patient competent, while 91% would have maintained her confidentiality. Results indicate that the majority of general practitioners used rationales that generally did not conform to current legal principles when making competence and confidentiality determinations regarding this patient.