Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Patient Privacy Trumped By Protecting Minors

When you or someone else sits down with a therapist, or medical professional of any kind,— they typically expect some level of privacy. That's what they say will be protected by the patient rights. Not only is patient privacy of the utmost importance to patients, it is vital to therapists for building a bond of trust with their patients. Without a relationship that is built upon a foundation of privacy, it is unlikely that patients will be honest about what they are struggling with; therefore, impeding any therapeutic progress.

But what happens when a patient’s right to privacy could result in potentially harming or continued harm of another? When it comes to the sexual exploitation of minors in California, the law says that a patient's right to privacy is trumped by a minor's right to protection. The Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA) requires all licensed therapists in California, among others, to report to authorities when they have “reasonable suspicion” of child abuse or neglect. The legislation calls for therapists to report to police when a patient admits to viewing child pornography.

As you can probably gather on your own, there are some concerns about that last requirement. A two-year battle that was waged to protect patient rights came to a close when a California appeals court upheld a judge’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the requirement to report patients who viewed child pornography to the police, The Los Angeles Times reports. The group of therapists and counselors who filed the suit argued that the CANRA mandate violated a patient’s constitutionally protected privacy rights.

The Los Angeles County Superior Court judge who initially tossed out the lawsuit, stated that there’s no “zone of privacy” for illegal conduct, according to the article. A three-judge panel for the 2nd District Court of Appeals supported the ruling.

“Not only is it illegal, the conduct is reprehensible, shameful and abhorred by any decent and normal standards of society,” the ruling stated. “There is no egregious breach of social norms in requiring reports of such criminal activity.”

Katie Walsh has fought numerous cases of Child Pornography in Juvenile Court with good outcomes. Please contact the Law Office of Katie Walsh if your child has been involved in Sexting, Social Media or Child Pornography issues.