Prior to surgery, your child's doctor will give you a careful explanation of what procedure will be performed and the risks involved. You will be asked to sign an informed consent form which states in detail that you understand the risks and benefits of your child's surgery.
One or both parents usually sign for a minor child. However, if the child is living with a legal guardian, the doctor will ask the legal guardian to sign. Legal guardians will be asked to show documentation to prove this legal relationship exists.
Parental (or legal guardian) consent is required for any diagnostic or surgical procedure on a person under the age of 18. Since adolescents are able to contribute to informed decisions about their health and the treatment they will receive, they should be included in discussions about surgery. Although not legally necessary, some adolescents like to sign the consent form for surgery, along with their parents or guardians.
However, "emancipated" adolescents — generally, those who are responsible for themselves and/or no longer live with their parents — may consent to their own medical care. An emancipated adolescent is someone who meets any of the following criteria:
Attends college away from home
Has a child of his or her own
Is in the military service