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Table of contents

Medical treatment of children

Children up to 12 years

Who decides?

Children up to 12 years of age are not allowed to decide on their own treatment.

Their parents decide for them and must jointly consent to the treatment. Of course, they will include the child's opinion in their decision-making. The counsellor will also ask for this. If a counsellor feels that the parents' decision is not in the child's best interest, the counsellor is not obliged to carry out the treatment.

When parents have different opinions, the counsellor can still act in certain cases! The best interests of the child play an important role here.

If parents refuse permission for a certain treatment and the child is in danger, the social worker may not decide on his/her own to treat the child. The care worker will have to request a measure from the Child Protection Board.

In short, the child under 12 has no decision-making power. Parents must give their consent for the child's treatment.

Right to information

However, the child has the right to an understandable explanation of what is going to happen during treatment. Parents, on the other hand, receive a full explanation of the treatment.

Accessing the medical file

Parents have the right to inspect their child's medical file or they can obtain a copy of the file. If the inspection is not in the interest of the child, the counsellor may refuse to allow the child to inspect the file. The counsellor is not allowed to allow children under the age of twelve to inspect the file. However, parents can let the child read the file.

Children between 12 and 16 years

Who decides?

For treatment to take place, both the child and the parents must give their consent. If the child or the parents refuse the consent, the treatment may not take place unless it is 'obviously necessary' to prevent serious harm to the child.

If the child does not want the parents to be informed about a certain treatment, the parents cannot give their consent. In that case, the counsellor will have to decide for himself whether or not to treat the child. The counsellor must decide whether the child can weigh up and decide for him/herself. If this is the case, the consent of the parents can be omitted.

If the child does not want the treatment but the parents do, no one can force the child to undergo the treatment. The social worker is not allowed to treat the child. The counsellor will have to check whether the child can see the consequences of his/her decision. The counsellor will have to look for a possibility that the child is willing to accept.

Right to information

Both the child and the parents have the right to full information from the counsellor.

Accessing the medical file

Both the child and the parents may inspect the medical file. The child can also request this on its own. The caregiver will allow this, but it depends on the age and whether the child is able to understand the file. Children in this age group can object to their parents inspecting their file.

Young people from 16 years of age

Who decides?

From the age of 16, young people can make their own decisions about their medical treatment. They have the same patient rights as adults. Young people can approach a care provider and make their own arrangements for medical treatment. Permission from their parents is not necessary. Even if the counsellor and the parents agree that treatment is medically necessary, the counsellor must respect the young person's opinion. If the young person does not want the treatment, it will not take place.

Right to information

The young person is entitled to full information. Parents will no longer receive the information, unless the young person gives permission to the counsellor to share the information. Permission for treatment is given by the young person themselves; parental consent is no longer required.

Accessing the medical file

The young person can ask to see the medical file himself. He or she does not need permission from his or her parents. The parents are also not allowed to inspect the young person's file if the young person does not have permission to do so.

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