Pediatric patients frequently seek medical treatment in the emergency department (ED) unaccompanied by a legal guardian. Current state and federal laws and medical ethics recommendations support the ED treatment of minors with an identified emergency medical condition, regardless of consent issues. Financial reimbursement should not limit the minor patient’s access to emergency medical care or result in a breach of patient confidentiality. Every clinic, office practice, and ED should develop policies and guidelines regarding consent for the treatment of minors. The physician should document all discussions of consent and attempt to seek consent for treatment from the family or legal guardian and assent from the pediatric patient. Appropriate medical care for the pediatric patient with an urgent or emergent condition should never be withheld or delayed because of problems with obtaining consent. This statement has been endorsed by the American College of Surgeons, the Society of Pediatric Nurses, the Society of Critical Care Medicine, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the Emergency Nurses Association, and the National Association of EMS Physicians.
- Copyright © 2003 by the American Academy of Pediatrics