Before we can see a patient for medical services and treatment, we need to obtain one or more signed consent forms. These forms let us know that you want to receive our services. Only a parent, legal guardian, or legally-authorized representative may sign a consent for a patient who is a minor (less than 18 years of age), except in some unusual circumstances like emancipated minors.
Most of the time, a child’s parent gives consent. This includes parents of legally adopted children. Sometimes it is a different person or agency who is the legal guardian or legally-authorized representative, and sometimes parents may not have legal authority to make health care decisions for a child. When one of these less common situations exists, written documentation is required for us to know who can consent. It should be brought to the appointment or sent in ahead of time.
Consent forms are usually signed at the appointment. A parent, legal guardian or legally-authorized representative should accompany any patient under the age of 18, or any patient 18 or older who lacks legal authority to consent for themselves, to the appointment to sign consent forms for treatment and to make care decisions. Please send ahead or bring to the appointment documents of guardianship, custody, or other authority to consent and make decisions on behalf of the patient if you are not the child’s parent. For example, grandparents, aunts, uncles, social workers, etc., must bring written documents to show that that they have authority for medical decisions for the patient, including permanent or temporary custody. Or, if you are a parent who has sole medical decision-making authority for the patient, please bring that documentation. A copy of the documentation will be added to the patient’s medical record along with required signed consent forms.
If a parent, legal guardian or other legally-authorized representative will not be available for the appointment, please contact us to make arrangements to have consent forms signed in advance. We cannot see a patient without a signed consent form on file.
Adults (i.e., people 18 years of age or older) can usually make decisions about their medical care. But before they can consent to receive care, they must understand what the care will be and the risks and benefits of options available. Once they understand the proposed care, they must provide written consent before that care can begin. An adult who can make informed decisions and consent to their care may ask a trusted adult for guidance or support in communicating about their care—this is known as supported decision-making.
Sometimes, however, adults need more than support or guidance to help make decisions about their medical care. If an adult cannot make healthcare decisions on their own, there are a few ways they can get help:
- An advance directive (which must have been established by the adult before becoming incapacitated) can be executed.
- A surrogate decision-maker can be assigned.
- A guardian of the person may be appointed by a judge.
We Are Here to Help
For questions or assistance, contact the Office of Patient and Community Engagement at 443-923-2640.
Visit MarylandAttorneyGeneral.gov/Pages/HealthPolicy/hcda.aspx for information about the Health Care Decisions Act in Maryland.
If you need help regarding guardianship, contact Project HEAL (Health, Education, Advocacy and Law) at Kennedy Krieger Institute, at 443-923-4414, for appropriate referrals in your community