The Rights of Children & Adolescents

Although the age of majority in the health care setting is eighteen (18) years, children and adolescents are guaranteed certain rights in the health care setting even though they are not old enough to consent for their own care.

The immediate blood family/legal guardian of a child or adolescent patient generally has the right and responsibility to be involved in decisions about the care of the child. Step parents do not have the legal right to make medical decisions for an underage child. A child or adolescent has the right to have his or her wishes considered in the decision making as limited by law.

A child or adolescent has the right to expect that care and the physical environment will be appropriate to his or her age, size and needs.

A child or adolescent patient whose treatment requires a long absence from school has the right to educational services. These services will be arranged with the local school system and may either be provided for in the health care setting or the home.

There are certain situations under which a child or adolescent under the age of 18 can give consent for their own medical treatment:

  • Regardless of age, any pregnant female can give her own consent
  • Regardless of age, anyone who is married or a parent can give his or her own onsent.
  • Regardless of age, anyone who has been emancipated by a legal court
    system can give consent for his or her own care.
  • Regardless of age, anyone who is serving in the military can give consent
    for his or her own care.

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