With a few notable exceptions, adolescents do not possess the legal authority to provide consent for or refuse medical interventions. However, in some situations, the question arises regarding whether a mature minor should be permitted to make a life-altering medical decision that would be challenged if made by the minor's parent. In this article, I explore what we currently know about the adolescent brain and how that knowledge should frame our understanding of adolescent decision-making. The prevailing approach to determining when adolescents should have their decisions respected in the medical and legal context, an approach that is focused on establishing capacity under a traditional informed consent model, will be reviewed and critiqued. I will suggest that the traditional model is insufficient and explore the implications for the adolescent role in health care decision-making.
Copyright © 2020 by the American Academy of Pediatrics.