Informed Consent from Minors and the Mentally Disabled

Obtaining informed consent from a competent adult appears relatively easy. However, receiving informed consent from a minor or mentally impaired/ disabled individual can become a more difficult process.This type of patient population typically raises serious questions as to who can provide informed consent on the patient’s behalf.
The Mentally Impaired/ Disabled

Individuals with a mental impairment or disability often have appointed guardians. A legal guardian has the authorization to make healthcare decisions and give informed consent for the patient. Dentists must be sure to obtain the proper informed consent from the authorized individual in these situations.

Minors

In the majority of cases involving minors, parents may authorize medical decisions and give informed consent on behalf of their minor children. However, this may not apply to parents under eighteen years old in some states. In some states, teens may not be legally capable of providing informed consent for their children and must consult with their parents before approving procedures. However, most states have developed the idea of “mature minors” who may be able to provide consent without consulting their parents. Always be sure to comply with your state’s laws when administering informed consent.