The informed consent process for emergency surgery in children poses a challenge for pediatric surgeons because the child and his/her parents must make medical decisions in a relatively short period. The unique circumstances of a surgical emergency create potential barriers to achieving the central goals of the informed consent process. This notwithstanding, if the parents are present, then the document must be signed. The fundamental principle of informed consent is relatively clear. Almost 100 years ago, Justice Cardozo stated "Every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body; and a surgeon who performs an operation without his patient's consent commits an assault for which he is liable for damages." Schloendorff v. Society of New York Hospital, 105 N.E. 92 (New York, 1914) overruled on other grounds, Bing v. Thunig, 143 N.E. 2d 3 (New York, 1957). Accordingly, it goes without saying that the parents must consent for the surgery.
If however the parents were not available, then the doctor should attempt all ways possible to locate the parents while at the same time explaining to the patient what is happening and what must happen. The underlying purpose of informed consent is to provide each individual patient with control over his or her own body. ...Show more