South Florida Hospital News
Tuesday May 18, 2021
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May 2021 - Volume 17 - Issue 11
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Will Parental Rights Legislation Usher in Pediatric Care Passports?

In the haste to pass legislation to codify the rights of parents to direct all health care services offered to or provided to their children, the Florida Legislature has muddied the water for physicians that may be called to render acute care and first aid to an injured child outside of the hospital setting.

House Bill 241, which passed both chambers and is on the way to the Governor, requires parents to provide written consent before a physician can offer or deliver care to their children. Comfort language had been added to the Senate version of the legislation that would have exempted acute care from the requirement to secure written consent. Unfortunately, that language did not make the final version of the legislation.
 
Clearly it was not the intent of the Legislature to erect roadblocks to prevent physicians from rendering urgent care to injured children. But the failure to include any clear exemptions in the legislation leaves physicians navigating a web of statutory provisions, none of which directly addresses if and when they can proceed with the delivery of urgent care without written permission of a parent.
 
Imagine all the inopportune instances where kids tend to get injured beyond the careful watch of their parents: sleepover accidents, sports injuries, adventuring outdoors, car accidents. Kids have an amazing knack to invent new ways to hurt themselves. The omission of clarity in the legislation is a missed opportunity to create certainty for parents and physicians when every moment matters for an injured child.
 
As a community, we need to demand that certainty is restored with common sense language that protects the rights of parents to direct their child’s care but also frees the hands and minds of physicians to timely respond in urgent situations.
 
No one wants to see an age where an urgent care consent form is a standard accessory when kids leave home.

Fraser Cobbe, Executive Director, Dade County Medical Association, can be reached at fcobbe@miamimed.com.

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