Informed Consent

What is an informed consent form?

Prior to surgery, the patient’s physician will give the child’s caregivers a careful explanation of what procedure will be performed and the risks involved. Caregivers are asked to sign an “informed consent form.” This form states that the caregiver understand the risks and benefits of the child’s surgery.

Who may sign the informed consent?

One or both legal caregivers (i.e. parents, legal guardian) usually sign for a minor child. Legal guardians will be asked to show documentation to prove this legal relationship exists.

Is informed consent handled differently if the patient is a teenager?

Parental (legal guardian) consent is required for any diagnostic or surgical procedure on a person under the age of 18. Since adolescents are able to contribute to informed decisions about their health and the treatment they will receive, they should be included in discussions about surgery. Although not legally necessary, some adolescents like to sign the consent form for surgery, along with their parents or guardians.

Emancipated adolescents, those who are responsible for themselves and/or no longer lives with their parents, may consent to their own medical care. An emancipated adolescent is someone who meets any of the following criteria:

  • is married
  • attends college away from home
  • has a child of his or her own
  • is in the military service