I have chosen to research the state of Florida’s laws on informed consent and minors. In the state of Florida as like many other states, they consider a minor to be any person under the age of 18. In the state of Florida, any minor who wants to seek medical treatment, must get the consent of a parent or legal guardian. However, there are exceptions to some minors who may seek treatment without the consent of their parents or guardians these pertain to: a married minor or previously married minor, or an emancipated minor who is 16 or older.
In the state of Florida, if a minor girl is married, pregnant, or a parent, she can consent to contraceptive services, such as pregnancy testing and prenatal care. Also, a minor can consent to contraceptive services if her doctor believes that her health will be at risk if the services are not provided. Minors are also allowed to obtain emergency contraception (the morning-after pill) without the consent of a parent or guardian and their services will be kept confidential.
In addition to contraception, minors are given the right to be tested for STD’s and HIV in confidentiality. Providers are not allowed to disclose that testing has taken place without the consent of the minor; this includes disclosing anything in the billing statement also.
Although, minors may be able to obtain emergency contraceptive, they are not allowed to receive abortions without the consent of a parent or legal guardian. The law requires the physician to contact the parents and give them at least a 48 hour notice in person or by telephone. The law also states that the minor may seek a court waiver, so that the parental signature is not required, and they will help by providing her with a free lawyer.
In the instance that a minor is in an accident and has been injured or suffers from an illness, and needs emergency care, the minor may receive treatment from a licensed service provider in the hospital or from emergency service personnel without the consent of a parent or guardian if the parents cannot be reached at work or home and the minor needs immediate medical attention. However, the parents must be notified as soon as possible.
In the event that a minor may need substance abuse services, he/she may consent to their own confidential medical services and counseling related to substance abuse. The minor must consent to having their records disclosed to their parents. Also, minors 13 and over may be provided with confidential outpatient counseling and treatment for mental health. The only time parental consent is required is when the minor is seeking more than two visits in one week.
When a minor is prosecuted and confined as an adult in a state correctional institution, they are considered to be emancipated for medical purposes, with exception of abortion and sterilization.
While reviewing these laws on minors, confidentiality, and informed consent, there was an article that suggested physicians to discuss with their minor patients the involvement of their parents and to reassure the minor of what would remain confidential. They do not want to discourage minors from seeking treatment for fear that the health care provider will tell their parents.