Can a minor refuse medical treatment?

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Can a minor refuse medical treatment?

My mother wants my sister to have a scar removed from her back. It is not harmful to her health and she does not want to have it removed. Is she allowed to refuse any procedures she doesn’t want to have done?

Asked on August 23, 2011 California

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Usually patient consent is needed for any surgical procedure (out-patient or in-patient). If your sister is under 18 years of age, she needs to tell her doctor she does not wish to have the scar removed. More likely than not, the doctor will not wish to gamble away his medical career with a potential lawsuit by your sister. He will or she will refuse to do the procedure if it means your sister can sue once she becomes of age and has 10 years usually from that point to seek payment if she wins her lawsuit. She should inform the doctor in writing she does not wish to have the elective surgery. In many states, this could be considered assault and battery. Keep in mind, your sister (in order to win) needs to show that this is indeed unrelated to health issues. Scar tissue can sometimes be problematic health-wise, so be certain that her health is not at risk by not having the surgery.


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