Healthcare rights for children and adolescents in Norway
Children and adolescents have a number of rights related to health and care services. The following is an overview of your rights when you need to visit a doctor or hospital.
The right to decide for yourself
You have the right to get sufficient information about your health, your rights and what your treatment will involve in a format that you understand. This should enable you to make your own choices and decide whether to allow healthcare personnel to treat you.
You have the right to state your opinion and be heard, regardless of your age. This means, among other things, that you have the right to take part in making decisions regarding your own health service. Also, if you want to have your parents present during treatment, this is normally accepted.
You are of a legal age in relation to health service rights when you turn 16. The law says that persons between the age of 16 and 18 have “the right to consent to health care, unless special provisions or the nature of the measure dictate otherwise”. This means that, in most cases, you decide if you want treatment and who shall have what information about your health.
There are some exceptions. You cannot, for example, decide to refuse treatment for cancer or a blood transfusion when you turn 16. In such situations, your parents or guardians have to decide. Parental responsibility applies until you are 18 years of age.
Your personal information should not be shared with others
Healthcare professionals have duty of confidentiality. This means that all persons who work at the doctor's, in a health center, school health service or hospital must keep your personal information secret from others. As a general rule, healthcare professionals still have a duty to inform your parents if you are under 16 years of age.
There may be some situations where you want to withhold information from your parents. If this is the case, you shall be informed as soon as possible about the rights of your parents to have information about you and your health. You shall also have information on exceptions that apply when it comes to the obligation of healthcare personnel to provide information to your parents when you are younger than 16.
If it is necessary for your parents to receive information about you in order to fulfil their duty as parents, they may get the information even if you are between the age of 16 and 18. If your parents are provided with information about you, you will be informed.
Rights regarding treatment
Children and adolescents have the right to special arrangements in hospitals. This may involve admitting you to a children’s ward, if possible. You have the right to have at least one parent with you during your stay. You also have the right to education appropriate to your age and development.
If you need long-term health and care services, you have the right to a treatment plan tailored specifically to you. This is called the “right to an individual care plan” (information in Norwegian).
If you are under 23 years of age and are struggling with mental illness or are addicted to drugs, you have the right to have the specialist health service assess your condition within 10 working days of receiving your referral.
Severely ill parents or siblings
If you have a mum, a dad or a brother/sister who is seriously ill, your healthcare provider will help you get the information and necessary assistance that you need as a result of the condition of your close one.
If one of your parents or a brother/sister dies, healthcare personnel shall help ensure that you receive all the information, assistance and follow-up you need.
Rights of young people with disabilities
If you are a child or an adolescent with disabilities, you have the same rights as other young patients, but children and adolescents with disabilities often have a long-term need for health care.
Many persons with disabilities need assistance from health and care services in relation to education, or participating in work and social life.
Here you can find more detailed information about the rights of families with children and young people with disabilities (brochure from Hospital of Southern Norway, in Norwegian).