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Vol. 11 - Num. 44

Medicine and Law

The doctor, the minor patient and his/her parents. A triangle that should be of love

Juan Siso Martína

aDoctor en Derecho Público. Profesor de Deontología y Legislación Sanitaria. Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud. Universidad Rey Juan Carlos. Madrid. España.

Correspondence: J Siso. E-mail: paracelso.2000@gmail.com

Reference of this article: Siso Martín J. The doctor, the minor patient and his/her parents. A triangle that should be of love. Rev Pediatr Aten Primaria. 2009;11:685-93.

Published in Internet: 31-12-2009 - Visits: 7612


The adult age in the medical field is reached at 16 years, acquiring the capacity then, in general, to make autonomous decisions. Between 12 and 16 years, however, minors can make their own decisions if they meet the conditions of sufficient maturity. While none of the mentioned situations happens, the parents will replace the child in the decisions. It may happen, however, that parents are in disagreement between them towards the decision to be taken under these conditions, due to the situation of lack of understanding between them in their personal lives. It should be noted that in case of separation or divorce one parent has the custody, but both retain normally parental authority and therefore both have the right and obligation of caring for the child’s health, their common child. It may happen; too, that the child wants to make a decision that is detrimental to his own interest. The interest of the child is always preferred over any other conflicting interest and the doctor may have to ultimately assume the role of ombudsman of the child, invoking, if necessary, judicial assistance. The doctor is in the difficult position of deciding whether the child is capable of taking his/her own decisions, due to his/her age or maturity, if is the decision of the parents the one to prevail, or if, finally, becoming the guarantor of the minor’s health, has to go to court. Anything but easy is the role the doctor has to assume in these cases.


Divorced parents Interest of the child Judicial assistance Medical advocate Minor mature Parenteral responsability



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