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CASE STUDY: PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY AND CONSENT
Seven-year-old Megan was on a school trip to the Isle of Wight when she slipped on the edge of the swimming pool and landed awkwardly on her wrist. She is taken to the local Accident and Emergency department by her teacher. X-rays revealed she has a nasty contaminated fracture of her radius, and the orthopaedic team believes that it is going to need manipulation under anesthesia to achieve satisfactory realignment. Your surgical ST6 has asked you to complete the necessary pre-theatre checklists and to complete the consent form. You try to explain to him that the parents are not present, but he reassures you that the teacher can sign instead since she is the accompanying adult. Questions • Who can consent to medical treatment for young children?
1. Who can consent to medical treatment for young children?
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Introduction: In the field of healthcare, medical treatment for young children can raise questions about parental responsibility and consent. As a professor at Harvard University, I have encountered discussions about who can give consent for minors in medical situations. This case study presents a scenario where a child is injured and requires medical attention, but the parents are not present. The question posed is: Who can consent to medical treatment for young children?
Answer: In general, the legal guardian or parent of a minor is responsible for providing consent for medical treatment. However, there are situations where a designated caregiver or accompanying adult may be authorized to give consent on behalf of the parent or legal guardian. For example, if a child is at school or on a field trip, a teacher or chaperone may be given limited consent authority in case of emergency medical situations. It is important for healthcare providers to confirm the designated caregiver’s authority to give consent before proceeding with treatment. Ultimately, the well-being of the child should be the top priority while also respecting the rights and responsibilities of the parent or legal guardian.