One of the most debated topics we here when it comes to minors and medical treatment is whether or not Ketucky emergency rooms should delay care for unaccompanied minors just because a parent isn't present. And while arguments on both sides can be valid (to a degree), minors who require emergency medical treatment should receive care even if they arrive at the emergency room without a parent or guardian.
Typically, parental consent is required before a child under the age of 18 gets medical care. However, sometimes children get hurt at daycare, school, extracurricular activities, sporting events, friends' homes, jobs, or other places where their parent is not present.
Triage, diagnosis, and medical treatment should not be delayed when a child or teenager with a potentially severe condition arrives at an emergency room unaccompanied by a parent or guardian.
How the ER Should Treat Unaccompanied Minors
The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) requires all hospitals that receive federal funding to:
- Offer medical screening to anyone who comes to the emergency room seeking an evaluation
- Stabilize emergency medical conditions
Emergency rooms must provide evaluations and stabilization treatments to unaccompanied minors. Evaluation and emergency treatment should not be delayed because of a lack of parental consent. Instead, emergency room staff should act as if the parent or guardian consented to evaluation and treatment that is in the best interest of the child. While emergency care should be provided to unaccompanied minors, emergency room staff should also:
- Attempt to contact the child's parent or guardian
- Only provide emergency treatment. Any non-emergency treatment should be delayed until parental consent is provided.
Take Action If Your Child Is Hurt by Delayed ER Care
Minor children typically need parental consent for medical care because they lack the legal authority to provide their own consent. The same concept applies to legal issues. Minor children lack the legal standing to bring their own lawsuits. Accordingly, they need their parents or legal guardians to file medical malpractice claims on their behalf if they are hurt by delayed emergency room care.
If your child was hurt because of delayed emergency room treatment, we encourage you to contact our Kentucky medical malpractice lawyers for a free, confidential consultation about your child's rights and potential recovery.