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Turning 18 and your health care


What turning 18 means for your health care

Before you know it, you will be turning 18. You might not feel any different, but legally you will be an adult in most U.S. states. Becoming a legal adult is sometimes called “the age of majority.” You will be in charge of making your own medical decisions. The information below tells you what kind of changes this will mean for your health care in the future.

What happens when you turn 18?

Your medical team will talk directly to you after you turn 18, instead of your parents or caregivers. They will ask for your agreement on medical decisions. “Consent” is another name for this type of agreement.

Your family or other caregivers can stay involved and help you make decisions. They can give you advice and help you think through your choices. But you get to make the final medical decision.

What happens when you come to St. Jude after turning 18?

Your parents or other caregivers make medical decisions and sign forms for you before you turn 18. After you turn 18, St. Jude will ask you to update these forms, because you are now the person responsible for your care. We will ask you to make decisions about the following things:

  • Consent for treatment and research,
  • Who we share information with, and
  • Advance care planning and a health care agent.

The information below tells you about each of these.


You will meet with someone from St. Jude Patient Registration after you turn 18. This meeting needs to happen before you receive any more health care, including blood tests. The Registration staff member will ask you to read and sign a form to keep receiving treatment at St. Jude. They also will ask you to read and sign other documents. Please ask the Registration staff member any questions you have during this meeting. You should only sign after you understand everything.

If you are taking part in research studies, you will meet with someone from each study to complete a new consent form. Your parents or other caregivers signed this form when you first agreed to take part in the study. You need to sign it yourself after you turn 18.

You may talk with your parents, caregivers, and other family and friends about medical decisions even after you turn 18. You might even want to talk about who can help you make decisions.

If you are a parent or caregiver concerned about your child’s ability to decide, please talk to their doctor or social worker.

Sharing information

You can decide who sees or is told about your medical information after you turn 18. This is your right under the U.S. law called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. You will need to sign a form to allow St. Jude to share information with anyone, even your parents. This form is called an Authorization for the Release of Information, or “authorization form.” You also need to give St. Jude the name and contact information of any person or group that is allowed to see your information. An example of such a group is another doctor’s office.

Advance care plans and health care agents

We will ask if you want an advance care plan and a healthcare agent. An advance care plan lets you say what health care you do or do not want if you cannot speak for yourself in the future. It is sometimes called an advance directive. A health care agent is a trusted person who can make decisions for you if you cannot make them.

In Tennessee, you may have a health care agent make decisions even if you are able to make them yourself. For example, you might not want to make those decisions. Your social worker can help you decide if you want a health care agent to do this. They can also help you fill out the forms to have a health care agent and advance care plan.

Using the My St. Jude Patient Portal

We will ask if you want to start using the My St. Jude Patient Portal when you turn 18. This is a way to see your appointment schedule and some of your medical records online. You can also send non-urgent messages to your nurse through My St. Jude.


If you have questions about what happens when you turn 18, please ask your doctor, nurse, or social worker.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

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