Article Text

CONSENT, PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY AND LEGITIMACY: A LEGAL ACTION OR A THROW OF THE DICE?
  1. F Kemidi1,
  2. R Williams1,
  3. A Monaghan1
  1. 1Dental and Maxillofacial Department, Birmingham Childrens Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

Abstract

Objective This study looks at the issue of consent on behalf of children. We aim to identify whether legitimate consent was obtained prior to the childrens’ surgery under general anaesthesia. Moreover, the parents’ opinions regarding parental responsibility, social status and its affiliation with the consent is recorded.

Methods The Dental and Maxillofacial Unit at Diana Princess of Wales Birmingham Children’s Hospital in the UK serves a population of 5.2 million. Our department is a specialised regional and national paediatric centre for dental and maxillofacial referrals. Our study prospectively examines children who were treated in elective and emergency cases within a period of 15 weeks (October 2007–February 2008). Patients’ escorts were interviewed by the operating surgeons.

Results Sixty-one patients were involved in the study. The ratio of males to females was 2 : 1, with a mean age of 11.6 years. Overall, 100% of children had surgery with a valid consent, with most escorts having parental responsibility by birth. However, none of the consenters had any legal documents to prove their relationship to the child. Almost 65% of parents stated that marriage should not influence the consent form.

Discussion and Clinical Relevance In conclusion, we have shown through our data that gold standards set by the Children’s Act 1989 are met in our everyday clinical practice. Only legal guardians signed the consent form for the children. This study is a useful method to quantify our practice and maintain the delivery of high quality services within the principles of good medical practice towards children.

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