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November 1967

Parental Consent to Treatment of a Minor

Arch Otolaryngol. 1967;86(5):587. doi:10.1001/archotol.1967.00760050589019

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A surgeon, called in to operate on a minor, examined the hospital records just prior to the operative procedure and discovered that only the mother had given consent to the operation. The father was present but had not signed the consent. Upon questioning he finally admitted he had withheld his signature so that if the operation were not a success he could sue the doctor. The surgeon advised the father that he thought more of the possibilities of an award for damages than of his child's welfare, and that he would not operate without his signed consent.

This case illustrates the "litigation-mindedness" of some of the public today, and the traditional role of the father who at one time alone could authorize treatment of a child. Today, however, exclusive guardianship powers in the father are a dead letter in the law; instead parents share the authority to consent to medical

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