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Adolesc Med State Art Rev. 2011 Aug;22(2):321-34, xi.

Law, ethics, and clinical discretion: recurring and emerging issues in adolescent health care.

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  • 1SUNY Upstate Medical University and Syracuse University College of Law (courtesy), 618 Irving Avenue, Syracuse, New York 13210, USA.


Varied stakeholders are involved in adolescent health care, with many looking to law to provide clear-cut answers on who can control decisions and when. However, law allows for much clinician discretion, carving out space for contextual sensitivity and clinical determination of maturity. A triad model of decision-making is very often the most appropriate clinical and ethical course. Law's aim is ideally not to impede, but rather to support clinical and ethical wisdom. Drawing on cases in this volume, it is argued that law should not and typically does not, when accurately interpreted and applied, stand in clinicians' way.

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