Many patients under the age of majority present to emergency departments (EDs) without parents or guardians. This may create concern in regard to evaluation of these patients without formal consent to treat. The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act mandates that all patients presenting to EDs receive a medical screening examination and does not exclude these minors. Standards for who can provide consent for a patient vary from state to state and address important issues such as consent by parent surrogates, as well as adolescent emancipation, reproductive health, mental health, and substance use. This document addresses current federal and state legal implications of providing emergency care to minors, as well as guidance in obtaining consent, maintaining confidentiality, and addressing refusal of care.
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