End-of-life decisions and minors. Do minors have the right to refuse life preserving medical treatment? A comparative study

Christophe Lemmens, Christophe Lemmens (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The principles of the right to informed consent and informed refusal are quite clear for competent adult patients. The right of a competent adult patient to give his informed consent before medical treatment can be started, is a patients' right that is recognised all over the world. The logical corollary of the right to informed consent is the right to informed refusal. A competent adult patient also has the right to refuse medical treatment by simply withholding or withdrawing his consent. A physician who starts medical treatment without the informed consent of his patient will be held liable for battery.

Can these same principles be applied to minors? In other words: do minors also have the right to refuse medical treatment? Can a minor refuse even life preserving care? The interests of the involved parties (minor, parents and state) have to be weighed against each other case by case. A thorough examination of the available case law shows that the best interests of the minor are paramount. This best interests- standard guides judges in their making of a decision. However, this is certainly not always in accordance with reality. In fact, minors can be mature enough to refuse treatment at a much earlier time than the age of legal majority, whatever the consequences of that refusal may be.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-497
Number of pages19
JournalMedicine & Law
Volume28
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009

Keywords

  • medical decision making; informed consent
  • informed refusal; minor; parents
  • physician; state; best interests

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'End-of-life decisions and minors. Do minors have the right to refuse life preserving medical treatment? A comparative study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this