Treatment of a Minor
In California, a minor is defined as a person under the age of 18 years. Generally, minors may not consent for medical diagnosis or treatment. There are, however, situations for which they may consent. Whether adult or minor, the consenting individual must be provided with informed consent and that discussion, by the licensed healthcare provider, must be documented in the medical record.
Who may grant consent for a minor?
California law authorizes the parent(s) or legal guardian of a minor child to give consent for most medical decisions on behalf of the minor.
Other special consent situations are as follows:
- A “qualified adult relative” may grant consent if the minor lives with that adult. A “qualified adult relative,” is defined as an adult spouse, parent, stepparent, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, half-brother, half-sister, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, first cousin, or any person denoted by the prefix “grand” or “great,” or the spouse of any of those persons. A specific authorization form is required.
- “Court assigned guardians” may consent for a minor’s medical care as defined by the documents awarding guardianship.
- In “divorce/separation” situations, a parent with legal custody may give consent. If both parents have legal custody, and there is no disagreement, either parent may give consent and have access to information / records.
- “Foster parents” may consent to “ordinary” medical care such as immunizations, physical exams, or x-rays if placement was by court order or with consent of the child’s legal custodians. Foster parents may NOT give consent for surgical or experimental/controversial treatments/medications.
Other areas when minors may give consent
- Minors who are married or divorced, on active duty with the U.S. Armed Forces, emancipated by a court order, or self-sufficient 15 years or older, living away from home, and managing his own finances) may consent to most types of health care treatment