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Vol. 10 - Num. 39

Original Papers

Evaluation of the legal and ethical knowledge of physicians in relation to the adolescent

Marta Sánchez Jacoba, Isolina Riaño Galánb, Carmen Martínez Gonzálezc

aPediatra. CS La Victoria. Valladolid. España.
bPediatra. Hospital Universitario Central de Asturias. Facultad de Medicina y Ciencias de la Salud. Universidad de Oviedo. Oviedo. Asturias. España.
cPediatra. CS Villablanca. Madrid. España.

Correspondence: M Sánchez. E-mail: martasj@teleline.es

Reference of this article: Sánchez Jacob M, Riaño Galán I, Martínez González C. Evaluation of the legal and ethical knowledge of physicians in relation to the adolescent. Rev Pediatr Aten Primaria. 2008;10:443-56.

Published in Internet: 30-09-2008 - Visits: 6195

Abstract

Introduction: adequate healthcare of the adolescent minor requires the physician to be familiar with the mature minor doctrine and to be sensitive to patients? rights. The 41/2002 Act regulating patient autonomy (LBAP) defends the patient?s right to information, consent and confidentiality. Conscious of the lack of a standard approach to medical scenarios in which the evaluation of a minor?s capacity is required, we decided to design this study in order to find out physicians? opinion of this issue.

Materials and methods: multicentric study using an anonymous survey of 400 Primary Care and Hospital-based Specialist physicians. It comprises 13 closed questions aimed at assessing knowledge, approaches and attitudes when treating adolescents of 12-18 years of age.

Results: physicians? knowledge of Act 41/2002 (LBAP) are very limited: 25% of those surveyed know the legal age of majority for health issues while 34% know that the patient?s doctor is the person ultimately responsible for assessing patient maturity. Eight point five percent have detailed knowledge of the mature minor doctrine. Only 23.6% require the minor to sign informed consent. Seventy-three percent state that they find no difficulty in thinking of minors as being potentially mature and the same number are able to carry out a rational discussion with minors in the event of a conflict of interests.

Conclusions: it is necessary to extend physicians? knowledge of the legal and ethical issues involved in healthcare and it would be advisable to make the teaching of Bioethics more widespread.

Keywords

Capacity Consent Legislation Mature minor

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