The absolute right to refuse medical treatment, even if the reasons are irrational, is confined to competent adults. Children under 16 years can give legal consent to treatment in the absence of consent from those with parental responsibility. Children under 18 years do not, however, have an absolute right to consent, or refuse to consent, to treatment. The views of children assume increasing importance with age and maturity. Accident and emergency medical and nursing staff may face difficult decisions when children, or those with parental responsibility, refuse to consent to medical treatment. This paper presents guidelines designed to guide the decision making process in immediately or potentially life threatening conditions and in non-life-threatening conditions.
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