The Mature Minor Rule
Teens and patient confidentiality
About the Mature Minor Rule
The Mature Minor Rule was created as a result of a court case, Smith v. Seibly, 72 Wn.2d 16 (1967), and is part of Public Health - Seattle & King County's policy which allows health care providers to treat youth under the age of eighteen as adults based upon an assessment and documentation of the youth's maturity.
The Mature Minor Rule requires that providers consider the Mature Minor Factors below to determine whether a youth has the capacity to understand the proposed health care service and/or treatment and is sufficiently mature to make their own health care decisions.
Mature Minor Factors (must meet one or more)
- Freedom from parents or guardian: lives apart, manages their own affairs?
The youth is living apart from their parents or guardians and is managing their own affairs.
- Age and maturity?
The youth is able to provide reliable information and make important decisions with good insight and judgment.
The youth is financially independent from parents or guardians or is involved in a work-training program.
- Training and experience?
The youth has sufficient training and experience to make knowing and intelligent healthcare decisions.
- General conduct as an adult?
The youth demonstrates the general conduct of an adult.
What is the most important thing you should remember?
A provider's determination that a youth is a mature minor must be clearly documented in the health record with:
- Health care provider's name
- Date of service
- A statement that the youth is a “mature minor” and documentation of which factor(s) above support(s) the provider's determination that the youth has the capacity to understand the proposed health care service and/or treatment, and is sufficiently mature to make their own health care decisions.