Sending the kids away for spring break? Hosting grandchildren or the neighbor’s kids? What if one needs a doctor or dentist? Will the child get treatment if no parent is there?
Children generally cannot consent to their own medical treatment. The law implies a parent’s consent for a life-threatening emergency, but not for a toothache or a broken arm.
A grandparent, adult sibling, or adult aunt or uncle may consent if no parent is available. Parents may also delegate authority to consent, even for non-emergencies, to the child’s school, or to any other adult, but only in writing.
The State Bar’s model Authorization to Consent to Treatment of Minor appears at bottom (© 2004 State Bar of Texas; reprinted by permission).
If neither parent can be contacted, then the physician or dentist who must rely on the authorization is protected from second-guessing, because the Family Code immunizes them for all but negligence. In other words, they can make a different decision than an absent parent, just not a stupid decision. Either parent may rescind the authorization, but even then, the doctor or dentist without actual notice is still protected.
The form is not a substitute for a declaration of guardian for children, which is effective only on both parents’ death or disability. However, the two forms complement each other: the medical consent delegates authority while the parent is alive and well, and the declaration of guardian, which informs the court of the parent’s choice to manage the child’s medical and financial matters, is effective once the parent dies or is disabled. A model declaration of guardian for children is available at www.texasprobate.com.
© 2004 State Bar of Texas. Reprinted by permission. Neither the State Bar of Texas nor any department, section, officer, volunteer committee, employee, or member of the State Bar of Texas makes either express or implied warranties in regard to the use of this form and shall not be held liable for any losses caused by reliance on the accuracy, reliability or timeliness of such information. Each attorney must depend on his or her own knowledge of the law and expertise in using or modifying the form. Practitioners should remember that forms should always be considered merely an optional starting place for a legal matter. This form is not intended to be and does not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is established. Members of the public should remember that a form is no comparison or substitute for an attorney’s legal advice. If you have a legal question or problem, the State Bar of Texas strongly encourages you to consult with an attorney licensed in good standing in your jurisdiction.
Authorization to Consent to Treatment of Minor
I, ________________________ [name], am the [parent/guardian/managing conservator] of
________________________ [name of minor], a minor child, and have the power to consent to medical
treatment for [him/her]. [Include if applicable: ________________________ [Name[s]] [is/are]
________________________ [name of minor]’s [other parent/parents].] I authorize and appoint
________________________ [name] as my agent to consent to medical treatment of the minor when I
cannot be contacted to so consent, such medical treatment to include, without limitation, X-ray examination; anesthetic treatment; medical, dental, or surgical examination or treatment; and general hospital care. No prior determination of life-threatening emergency or danger of serious or permanent injury resulting from delay of treatment need be made under this authorization.
I will indemnify and hold harmless from any expense or claim of any nature any entity that provides or causes to be provided examination, treatment, or hospital care under this authorization (except to the extent such entity is negligent therein) and conditionally agree to make or cause to be made, by assignment of third-party benefits or otherwise, full and complete payment for such examination, treatment, or hospital care.
SIGNED on ________________________ [date].
[Name of parent/guardian/managing conservator]
Child’s name: _____________________________________________________________
Birth date: _______________________________________________________________
Last tetanus immunization: ________________________________________________
Hospitalization insurance co.: ____________________________________________
Type of credit card: ______________________________________________________
Credit card number:_______________________________________________________
Name on credit card: ______________________________________________________
Expiration date: __________________________________________________________