Treatment of Minor Patients: Delegated Consent by Parents

One of the quandaries facing dental offices today is what to do when a minor patient comes to the office for treatment accompanied by a person who is not their parent or legal guardian. Sometimes the patient is brought in by a relative, a spouse of a parent who has remarried, or simply a friend. Since only certain legally authorized individuals may give consent for general health-related treatment for a minor, the dentist must decide whether to proceed with the visit or reschedule the patient. Often, the dentist will attempt to contact the parent or legal guardian by telephone at the time of the visit, but this may not always be successful.

Fortunately, New York law provides a mechanism by which a parent may designate another person to make healthcare decisions for minors and even incapacitated adult children.

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