The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has updated and affirmed its stance on seeking consent from children and adolescents for medical treatment, taking into consideration the patient's development and capacity for medical decision-making, according to a new policy statement in the August 2016 Pediatrics.
The statement, "Informed Consent in Decision Making in Pediatric Practice," is accompanied by a technical report with the same title that provides more detail on how parent, patient and pediatrician may work collaboratively on medical treatment or intervention (both published online July 25).
The statement updates a 1995 report and discusses the importance of informed consent, its history in ethical theory and law, and application.
The AAP recommends that pediatricians use developmentally appropriate language during discussions with minors, and that they provide information to the patient on their illness and treatment in a manner that respects the child or adolescent's cognitive abilities.
The report advises that, in general, adolescents should not be allowed to refuse life-saving treatment even when parents agree with the child. In medical scenarios with a poor prognosis and burdensome or unproven interventions, the physician should give more consideration to an adolescent's refusal for treatment. The report also urges physicians to be familiar with their specific state statutes governing the care of sexually transmitted infections, provision of contraceptive and abortion services, mental health and substance abuse treatment.