Ethical Concerns When Minors Act as Standardized Patients

Pediatrics. 2017 Mar;139(3):e20162795. doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-2795. Epub 2017 Feb 7.


When minors are asked to assist medical educators by acting as standardized patients (SPs), there is a potential for the minors to be exploited. Minors deserve protection from exploitation. Such protection has been written into regulations governing medical research and into child labor laws. But there are no similar guidelines for minors' work in medical education. This article addresses the question of whether there should be rules. Should minors be required to give their informed consent or assent? Are there certain practices that could cause harm for the children who become SPs? We present a controversial case and ask a number of experts to consider the ethical issues that arise when minors are asked to act as SPs in medical education.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / ethics*
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent
  • Minors*
  • Parental Consent
  • Patient Simulation*