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J Health Law. 2004 Fall;37(4):667-91.

Minors' rights to consent to treatment: navigating the complexity of State laws.

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Catholic Healthcare West, 251 S. Lake Avenue, 8th Floor, Pasadena, CA 91101, USA.


State laws recognize that a competent adult patient has the right to consent to or refuse medical treatment. While the law is clear with regard to the right of competent adults, state statutes are more complicated when the patient is a minor. While the law should, and does, attempt to balance the rights and obligations of parents and guardians against the access and privacy rights of minors, complicated state statutory schemes often fail to simultaneously address those contrasting goals in a consistent and uniform manner. The result is a confusing set of seemingly arbitrary and sometimes conflicting provisions that require the detailed attention of healthcare providers to ensure legal compliance. With the aim of helping healthcare practitioners meet their legal obligations, this Article examines state laws governing minor's consent rights byfocusing on the instances in which a minor's parent, guardian, or other authorized adult is permitted to consent to treatment on behalf of a minor and the instances in which a minor is authorized to act independent of adult intervention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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