D.C.: Laws Regarding Minor Consent to Health Care
May 5, 2021
Authority to consent to medical care directly impacts the health and wellness of minors. Familiarity with consent laws will enable medical professionals to better provide healthcare to patients under 18 years of age. The importance of minor consent laws can come up in many situations. A minor who is homeless may want access to medical care, despite not communicating with their parents. A grandparent who is caring for a child while a parent is incapacitated with a medical condition may want to take the child to a check-up. A minor with injuries may be in need of immediate treatment but their parents are inaccessible. These scenarios raise the question of what constitutes sufficient consent to treat a minor. Minor consent laws, as well as a medical provider’s professional duties, help answer this question.
This issue brief reviews several aspects of D.C. law that are critical to the issue of consent to medical care, detailing ways the law provides for minors to consent to their own care. It also addresses when someone other than a parent or guardian may consent to treatment for a minor. And finally, this brief addresses additional considerations in the laws surrounding minor consent, specifically emergency circumstances and liability concerns.