Exploration for physicians of the mature minor doctrine

J Pediatr. 1991 Oct;119(4):520-5. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(05)82398-4.


The "mature minor doctrine" is the common-law rule that allows an adolescent who is mature to give consent for medical care. Ethical decisions regarding consent and confidentiality should be distinguished from legal requirements. Recent court decisions have altered the law, especially in regard to consent for refusal of life-sustaining treatment. There are statutory exceptions to the rule of parental consent regarding emergency care, sexually transmitted diseases, drug treatment, mental health care, pregnancy, contraception, and emancipation. A detailed analysis of the mature minor exception is presented, utilizing court case vignettes. There is minimal legal risk in allowing adolescents older than 14 years of age to give consent for treatments entailing small degrees of risk, when they can make adultlike decisions and demonstrate signs of maturity.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Medicine / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Male
  • Mental Competency*
  • United States