EMS agencies are advised to work with hospital administrators, local law enforcement agencies, school administrators and community youth group leaders to develop policies and procedures to best serve the medical needs of minors in time of an emergency.
The issue of providing care and/or the patient's right to refuse care becomes a complex circumstance EMS providers must address.
In the prehospital situation the issue at hand is not usually providing care but rather the failure to treat.
Medical, dental, health and hospital services may be rendered to persons of any age without the consent of a parent or legal guardian when, in the physician's judgment an emergency exists and the person is in immediate need of medical attention and an attempt to secure consent would result in delay of treatment which would increase the risk to the person's life or health.
In addition to these provisions for health care consent by 'emancipated' individuals, there are other statutory provisions for minors who are in military service or are seeking treatment for AIDS (PHL § 2781) and other sexually transmitted diseases (PHL § 2305).
Although it is easy to determine a legal definition of a minor, the responsibility to treat or release is a much more complex legal, ethical, social and public relations problem.
The nature of children and their special needs coupled with their inability to legally give informed consent, present special and unique matters for EMS personnel to consider and evaluate.
An uninjured child may be supervised by law enforcement personnel or a school or activity (soccer, etc.) supervisor until a parent is contacted.
In some situations, a responsible adult (grandparent, aunt, brother, etc.) with the child can assist in the decisions making.
It is the purpose of this policy to clarify the legal issues surrounding consent to medical care and/or the refusal of care by minors in the pre-hospital EMS setting.
Emergency Medical Services (EMS)providers are often presented with patients who are considered by law to be minors.
Under this section of Public Health Law, a person who is eighteen or older may give effective consent for health care.