Consent of Minors to Treatment

Added to Handbook: Prior to June 2004
Updated: September 2013

PURPOSE

To provide guidelines on consent of minors to dental hygiene treatment.

BACKGROUND

In BC there is no legislation that requires a minimum age limit for child or youth clients to be able to consent to dental hygiene care. Under section 17 of the Infants Act, a child under the age of 19 may consent directly to health care treatment, without parental/guardian consent, if:

  • the health care provider has made reasonable efforts to determine and has concluded that the proposed treatment is in the minor's best interest, and
  • the minor has sufficient intelligence and maturity to understand the nature and consequences and the reasonably foreseeable benefits and risks of the health care proposed.

Health care includes treatment for therapeutic, preventive, palliative, diagnostic or other health-related purposes.

POLICY

When obtaining consent from a minor, the dental hygienist should discuss the proposed treatment at a level that the client can understand. This includes the nature of the proposed treatment, the associated risks and benefits, and any reasonably foreseeable potential consequences of foregoing the treatment. Dental hygienists must use professional judgment to determine if the minor is capable of consenting to care.

Recordkeeping should include a summary of the discussion with the minor, including notations that:

  • the proposed treatment was determined to be in the minor's best interest
  • the proposed treatment was explained at a level that the client could understand
  • the risks and benefits of the proposed treatment, and any reasonably foreseeable consequences associated with the treatment options were discussed

     

If any of the three criteria above cannot be met, and if the proposed treatment is not an emergency, health care cannot be provided without parental/guardian consent. In such cases, the minor must consent to the disclosure of information to a parent/guardian for consultation.

REFERENCES

  • Government of British Columbia. Infants act. Victoria: Queen's Printer; 2013. Available from:
    Infants Act [RSBC 1996] Chapter 223
  • CDHBC Code of Ethics. Victoria: College of Dental Hygienists Of British Columbia; 2013.