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End- of- life decisions and minors: do minors have the right to refuse life preserving medical treatment? A comparative study.

Abstract

The principles of the right to informed consent and informed refusal are quite clear for competent adult patients. The right of a competent adult patient to give his informed consent before medical treatment can be started, is a patients' right that is recognised all over the world. The logical corollary of the right to informed consent is the right to informed refusal. A competent adult patient also has the right to refuse medical treatment by simply withholding or withdrawing his consent. A physician who starts medical treatment without the informed consent of his patient will be held liable for battery. Can these same principles be applied to minors? In other words: do minors also have the right to refuse medical treatment? Can a minor refuse even life preserving care? The interests of the involved parties (minor, parents and state) have to be weighed against each other case by case. A thorough examination of the available case law shows that the best interests of the minor are paramount. This "best interests" standard guides judges in their making of a decision. However, this is certainly not always in accordance with reality. In fact, minors can be mature enough to refuse treatment at a much earlier time than the age of legal majority, whatever the consequences of that refusal may be.

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  • Authors

    Source

    Medicine and law 28:3 2009 Sep pg 479-97

    MeSH

    Adolescent
    Canada
    Child
    Decision Making
    Europe
    Humans
    Informed Consent
    Minors
    Terminally Ill
    Treatment Refusal
    United States

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article
    Legal Cases

    Language

    eng

    PubMed ID

    20157964

    Citation

    TY - JOUR T1 - End- of- life decisions and minors: do minors have the right to refuse life preserving medical treatment? A comparative study. A1 - Lemmens,Christophe, PY - 2010/2/18/entrez PY - 2010/2/18/pubmed PY - 2010/3/24/medline SP - 479 EP - 97 JF - Medicine and law JO - Med Law VL - 28 IS - 3 N2 - The principles of the right to informed consent and informed refusal are quite clear for competent adult patients. The right of a competent adult patient to give his informed consent before medical treatment can be started, is a patients' right that is recognised all over the world. The logical corollary of the right to informed consent is the right to informed refusal. A competent adult patient also has the right to refuse medical treatment by simply withholding or withdrawing his consent. A physician who starts medical treatment without the informed consent of his patient will be held liable for battery. Can these same principles be applied to minors? In other words: do minors also have the right to refuse medical treatment? Can a minor refuse even life preserving care? The interests of the involved parties (minor, parents and state) have to be weighed against each other case by case. A thorough examination of the available case law shows that the best interests of the minor are paramount. This "best interests" standard guides judges in their making of a decision. However, this is certainly not always in accordance with reality. In fact, minors can be mature enough to refuse treatment at a much earlier time than the age of legal majority, whatever the consequences of that refusal may be. SN - 0723-1393 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/20157964/End__of__life_decisions_and_minors:_do_minors_have_the_right_to_refuse_life_preserving_medical_treatment_A_comparative_study_ L2 - http://openurl.ebscohost.com/linksvc/linking.aspx?genre=article&sid=PubMed&issn=0723-1393&title=Med Law&volume=28&issue=3&spage=479&atitle=End- of- life decisions and minors: do minors have the right to refuse life preserving medical treatment? A comparative study.&aulast=Lemmens&date=2009 ER -