Laws and policies vary depending on your state and health care entity. Generally, a child cannot be given medical or surgical treatment without parental consent. The most common exception is an emergency situation in which the parents cannot be contacted and a delay in treatment would cause harm.
In some states, statutory provisions address circumstances such as pregnancy, venereal disease, and substance abuse, where minors may wish to seek treatment without parental knowledge. Other statutes enable minors to consent to treatment in order to prevent minors from delaying or foregoing crucial treatment in fear of parental involvement. In general, the law respects minors' wishes to keep certain sensitive information from their parents when the minors are mature enough to understand the nature of the procedure and when the procedure does not involve serious risks.
Mature or Emancipated Minors
The laws of most states permit a person below the age of majority to give valid consent if the patient has assumed adult responsibilities such as financial independence, marriage, or child rearing. With a mature minor, you should assess and record clearly that the minor is able to understand the risks and benefits of the treatment being considered.
In these situations, minors are responsible for payment of their own bills; issues regarding their parents' insurance policies can prevent hospital treatment of a minor without the parents' knowledge.
Contraceptives: Providing contraceptive services to competent minors is legal if they have given informed consent.
Pregnancy: Minors can consent to the diagnosis, prevention, and care of pregnancy. Parental notification is not required when pregnancy is diagnosed.
Abortion: The laws governing abortions for minors vary by state. In general, however, minors have a right to give their medical consent to an abortion without parental consent. A parent may not force an adolescent to have an abortion against her will if she is mature enough to give her consent.