Consent and refusal of treatment by older children in emergency settings

Consent and refusal of treatment by older children in emergency settings
Perspective
Dominique Moritz, Phillip Ebbs
Emergency Medicine Australasia, 9 November 2020
Abstract
The law recognises that children can exert an increasing level of autonomy and decision‐making about their healthcare as they mature, and that intelligence and maturity levels will vary from one child to the next. Therefore, the parameters for when older children can consent to healthcare can be a complex area for clinicians to navigate. Refusal of treatment provides additional challenges for clinicians because the law is less clear about when older children can be involved in refusing treatment which is in their best interests. This article outlines relevant legislation concerning child consent to treatment across Australian jurisdictions and examines refusal of treatment by children using the 2018 case of Mercy Hospitals Victoria v D1 & Anor.

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