I Do Not Like This, Uncle-Sam-I-Am

There was a blood-donation drive at our parish today, and Middle Sister wanted to donate. She’s 16, and that’s old enough if she brings along a parent to sign a permission slip. So I took her over there, filled out the form, and sat with her while she read the packet of information and disclaimers that she was handed.

Finally her name was called and we went over to the desk where the nurse was taking medical histories. First Middle Sister had to produce an ID with her date of birth. A school ID wasn’t going to do it, and I reminded her that she had her driver’s permit in her handbag. Then the nurse told me that I wasn’t allowed to be there. Citing “privacy issues,” she said that while my daughter gave her medical history, I couldn’t be present. I could, however, stand next to the table where they would take the blood out of her arm. That is, if I weren’t so squeamish about things like that. (I’ll drive you to the ER if you don’t make me look at the wound.)

So I had to go sit on the other side of the room while my underage daughter gave her medical history. She is not old enough to get an Advil from the school nurse if she has a migraine without parental permission, let alone donate blood or get her ears pierced (or any other body part). I accompany her to medical appointments. But I AM NOT ALLOWED to listen to my minor child give her medical history.

Can you tell I’m not a fan of this policy? My daughter wasn’t asking me to please go away. She didn’t seem to care one way or the other, which is comforting to me. If the patient doesn’t care that a parent is there during the medical history, why is it a problem for the nurse?

I was only able to find a small amount of information regarding confidentiality on the Red Cross website:

The Red Cross maintains the confidentiality of information we obtain about a donor and will release a donor’s confidential information to his or her parents only with the donor’s consent.

Is this all part of HIPAA, or is this something new? Regardless, I don’t like it. Not one bit. If she is young enough to require my signature before she can give blood, she is young enough that I can still listen to her medical history.

And after all that, her iron was JUST shy of the benchmark required for blood donation. So this was all for nothing.

6 thoughts on “I Do Not Like This, Uncle-Sam-I-Am

  1. They ask some really shocking questions before you give blood which I find highly inappropriate for gently-reared teens. The whole "parental rights" issue gets my knickers in a twist pretty fast! delete…delete…delete…see it doesn't take much to get me started. I'm right there with you.

  2. I totally agree with you that that is inappropriate. However, I do know quite personally that there is medical information that needs to be asked in order to protect the blood supply. They should just ask in front of the parent or…don't take blood from minors. I suppose the logic is that young people might lie about risky behavior if the parent is listening. I contracted hepatitis C from a blood transfusion 27 years ago. I had to go through a chemo type treatment that was very difficult. They probably want to ask if the teen has ever done IV drugs since that is often how hep C (and other diseases) is transmitted. Strange times we live in.

  3. They also ask if you have been pregnant in the last 6 weeks, so I could see a teen lying in front of a parent but telling the truth in private.

  4. They ask the pregnancy question before X-rays or MRIs as well, and no one kicks me out when I take her to those.I'm all for keeping the blood supply safe, don't get me wrong. I received a transfusion in early 1992 when my older son was born. I'm not sure when in '92 they got dedicated to screening the blood.

  5. I worked for the American Red Cross back in the early 80s when they discovered HIV could be transmitted through blood. Every effort must be made to prevent any motivation to lie on health screenings. Every donor must honestly answer the questions — and there are some real doozies . They make me blush! I understand your feelings, I am the same way about the doctor's office. I don't let my kids donate blood in high school because of the questions (esp the questions regarding homosexual activity). Frankly, for some individuals the snack in the canteen after donating might be enough motivation to lie, but they have to do everything they can. The nurse should have explained that to you when she excused you. Bad on her. PS the Red Cross is a nonprofit, not a govt agency.

  6. Oh Barb, that is so not right! Do you know in my state (Illinois) a young teenager over the age of 13 does not need parental permission to have an abortion? Outrageous! Teenagers need their parents with them for any medical procedure in my opinion and should have the right to be present during the medical history process.

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