A parent or legal guardian must accompany children under age 18 to the Preoperative Clinic or the Admitting Office to provide consent for medical treatments and procedures during hospitalization. In general, the hospital cannot provide treatment without consent from a parent or legal guardian.
If your child is 18 years or older and is able, he or she can consent to treatment. If, however, a patient 18 years or older and is emotionally or mentally limited, he or she may not be able to consent to treatment, and parents will need court-ordered guardianship to consent for them. In such cases, please bring the legal papers documenting your guardianship or authority to consent to a child's care with you to the hospital. If the Massachusetts Department of Social Services (DSS) is involved with your child, contact your case worker to ask about the role of DSS in any decisions regarding the hospital experience.
Patient Self-Determination Act
All patients age 18 or older should read the Massachusetts Health Care Proxy Form. The federal Patient Self-Determination Act and the associated Massachusetts Health Care Proxy Act state that patients age 18 or older may name another person to act as an agent if they become unable to make decisions about their care. This person would be responsible for making all medical decisions, including those involving life-sustaining medical treatment, in agreement with his or her understanding of the patient's wishes. For more information about these and other hospital policies and procedures, see Patient Relations.