We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Who is Allowed to Give Consent for Medical Treatment?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
TheHealthBoard is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At TheHealthBoard, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

State, region or country law typically defines the issue of who can give consent for medical treatment. People who have this power may vary, though many areas have similar laws. These laws help to protect the rights of an individual from consent by others, which might conflict with best interest. The question is complicated when no recognized authority is available to give consent.

People, who can appreciate the nature of consent and the medical treatments being explained, generally consent for themselves. This group doesn’t include young children or adults who are judged as mentally incompetent. In the case of children, parents or guardians must usually give consent for medical treatment, or in mentally incompetent adults, an appointed guardian, who may or may not be a relative, would need to give permission for treatment. In medical emergencies, when a person is unable to consent due to unconsciousness, consent may not be needed for things like life-saving or preserving treatment, unless an advanced directive otherwise states that life-saving treatment isn’t wanted.

There are some exceptions. First, older children can often give consent for medical treatment of certain types. For example, they may be able to access medical services related to birth control or abortion. Teens may also refuse some treatments, such as sterility, psychoactive medications, or treatments like electro-convulsive therapy. Even though teens may be minors, in some areas of consent they may have primacy consent because of the type of treatment. Similarly, adults with altered or impaired mental status may have power of refusal of some treatments, such as drug, surgical or electroshock treatments for psychiatric conditions.

The stickier question involves who else may consent for medical treatment. As stated, in emergencies, physicians may not need consent for lifesaving treatment of adults or children, but things change if a procedure has risks, is experimental, or may not be proven as absolutely necessary. For children, what happens at this stage may vary. Legal guardians or parents can give consent, but stepparents usually can’t. To avoid this issue, the stepparent can be designated as an additional guardian. Possible other consenters could include adult siblings or grandparents. Parents can create a formal document designating anyone with the power to consent or they can even sign consent away for one-time events like school field trips.

For adults who cannot consent for medical treatment, their spouse can, or a parent may consent if a person is unmarried. Domestic partners have rights to consent in some regions. In some circumstances, siblings can provide permission in emergencies.

However the law is defined, any person may consent if he are she are designated as a medical representative by the individual getting treatment, or if he or she is a medical proxy who is designated by a court. Individuals who know they will reach a point where they cannot consent for medical treatment may also use documents like an advanced directive to designate in advance of treatment which medical interventions they will and will not accept.

TheHealthBoard is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a TheHealthBoard contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen

Writer

With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a TheHealthBoard contributor, Tricia...
Read more
TheHealthBoard, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

TheHealthBoard, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.