Is it legal for parents to change the dose of their child’s medication against doctor’s orders?

A child was prescribed a specific dosage but the parents gave the child different amounts of medication because they did not agree with the doctor’s dosage. The used the doctors prescribed pills but cut them to give the child what they thought she should have they have no medical experience. The child did suffer because of the incorrect dosages given by the parents.

Asked on September 3, 2016 under Personal Injury, Alaska

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If everything went ok--the child was not harmed--then while what they did would be foolish (substituting their judgment for that of a trained physcian), it would not be specifically illegal: the law does not have the affirmative requirement that parents follow the physician prescription or advice. 
However, if parents do something unreasonably careless (negligent) or willfully/intentionally wrong and it harms their child (like giving the wrong dosage of medicine), they can be guilty of child endangerment. So if the child did suffer as a result of this, the parents could be charged with criminal endangerment and/or lose some parental rights (such as having their supervision of their child itself subject to governmental/agency supervision) were this to be reported to the authorities, such as your state's office of child services.


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