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Unformatted text preview: Journal HOME The Florida Bar www.floridabar.org Search: Advertising Rates • Submission Guidelines • Archives • Subscribe • News January, 2006 Volume 80, No.1 Legal Hurdles to Leap to Get Medical Treatment for Children by Ann Bittinger Page 24 Because of the establishment of The Florida Bar’s Commission on the Legal Needs of Children and former Florida Bar presidents’ emphasis on the legal rights of children, Florida lawyers have witnessed unparalleled attention being given to children’s rights and legal needs. The emphasis on children’s rights, however, was not just legal in nature. Leaders recognized that improving access to the legal system for children would benefit not only their civic standing, but also their lives in general. No area of the law will have a greater direct and long-term effect on children than laws that will allow them to receive needed medical care. The main hurdle lower income children must leap to receive health care is clearly the cost of the care itself. 1 However, the issue of who can give consent for the treatment of the children and identification of the child’s legal representative who should apply for government assistance to pay for the child’s care, can block children’s access to doctors’ offices and hospitals as much as lack of financial resources. Generally, minors cannot consent to their own medical treatment. If a physician places his or her hands on a child without the parent’s or legal representative’s consent, the physician could be liable for battery under the common law. 2 Additionally, providing treatment without consent could be considered unprofessional conduct under the Medical Practice Act, 3 and physicians’ licenses to practice medicine can be suspended for unprofessional conduct. 4 There are many situations in which consent to treatment of minors arise. In one situation, for example, a mother threatened to sue a surgeon who performed a circumcision on a newborn boy. The grandmother had taken the child to the surgeon, but the mother, who did not want the child circumcised for religious reasons, knew nothing of the surgery. In another situation, a child suffered hearing loss and ruptured ear drums while the government, social workers, family, and foster parents failed to agree as to who was authorized to give consent for the child to have surgery. Many surgeries have been delayed and cancelled while a hospital’s risk management department, a child’s social worker, and the county courts try to identify a legal representative who can consent to the child’s surgery. The purpose of this article is to outline the law governing consent for medical and surgical treatment of pediatric patients in Florida. Florida statutes contain a plethora of rules regarding who can give consent for a child’s healthcare treatment. In many cases, minors can consent to their own treatment without the consent of, or notice to, their parents, which may be surprising considering the new Florida law requiring...
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This note was uploaded on 08/23/2011 for the course BUL 4602 taught by Professor Johnson during the Spring '11 term at W. Florida.
- Spring '11