While providing services for children and young people, doctors need to obtain their consent for receiving medical treatment. However, there are certain limitations defining the situations when consent can be obtained from parents or caregivers. There are certain factors revealing whether a child or a young person has the capacity to give consent. Such factors include the level of intelligence, competence, and ability to fully understand what is involved in the treatment and analyze the potential consequences of various decisions.
Children under 16 often fail to be fully aware of the specifics of the treatment and are able to reason in a logical way due to the fear of pain and psychological problems caused by experiencing serious stress related to health issues. In such situations, doctors need to obtain consent from parents, a legally appointed guardian, or a local authority designated to care for the child. In the case the clinician finds the parents’ decision as the one putting a threat to the life of a child, he/she can make an application to the court.
Pre-hospital emergency care providers often face ethical dilemmas related to the necessity to provide treatment as soon as possible and the lack of possibility to obtain the informed consent of a person. However, in most emergency situations requiring immediate actions aimed at saving one’s life (especially if the patient is unconscious), medical workers can provide appropriate treatment without obtaining consent from a child or a parent if it is necessary to save the person’s life.