California law authorizes parents or guardians of minor children (anyone under the age of 18) to give informed consent for most medical decisions. However, there are some exceptions to this. Minors can consent to certain types of medical treatment under two types of statutes: status-based and treatment-based.
The California Medical Association’s (CMA) medical-legal document #0425, "Minor Consent," summarizes these statutes and other pertinent issues that physicians should be aware of prior to treating a minor. For instance, minors who are authorized to give legal consent to most medical treatment under the status-based statutes include married (or divorced) minors, minors on active duty with the U.S. Armed Forces, minors emancipated by a court order and self-sufficient minors (minors 15 years or older living away from home and managing their own financial affairs).
This member resource also includes information on what to do if the minor has adoptive, unmarried or divorced parents; parents who disagree about medical treatment; or legal guardians or caregivers. Medical record confidentiality is also discussed. It also includes sample forms that cover an individual authorized to consent to a minor's medical treatment and an affidavit for a minor caregiver's authorization.
An example of treatment-based consent for minors includes a new law that went into effect on January 1, 2012. Minors 12 years of age and older are now able to consent to preventive care, in addition to diagnosis or treatment of, sexually transmitted diseases without the consent of a parent or legal guardian. This would include hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines.
Medical-legal document #0425, "Minor Consent," as well as the rest of CMA's medical-legal library is free to members in CMA's online resource library. Nonmembers can purchase medical-legal documents for $2 per page.
Contact: Samantha Pellon, (916) 551-2872 or firstname.lastname@example.org.