Emergency Medical Care and Treatment of Minors Without Parental Consent Bill Approved in 13-Second Introduction That Explains Nothing | Florida

Last week, State Representative Ralph Massullo, a dermatologist, appeared before a public health-related subcommittee at the State House to introduce legislation relating to minors. The chairman of the commission asked Massullo to present his bill.

“Thank you Mr. Chairman, Committee. [HB] 817 simply allows physicians to provide emergency care to minors outside of a hospital or university health services system without parental consent,” Massullo told lawmakers.

That was the bill – the whole 13 seconds.

There were no questions, no debate. Lawmakers unanimously approved the bill, 16-0, with four votes missed. In all, the whole discussion lasted less than two minutes – and even then – the audience would have no idea of ​​the details.

In the Florida Legislature, the pace can be fast at times, but the January 19 13-second bill seemed unusual, raising questions about how the Legislature conducts business and whether the public is in the dark about serious matters related to the emergency. care of minors without parental consent.

In fact, HB 817 is a potentially controversial bill.

What was not mentioned that day was that the bill would significantly expand the current law.

Currently, parental consent is required for a doctor to provide emergency medical care to a minor outside of a hospital or university health service, according to a legislative analysis. Consent is also required for emergency medical services personnel to provide emergency care outside of what is called a pre-hospital setting, such as at the scene of an accident or in an ambulance.

But the bill goes much further: it would allow “physicians and emergency medical personnel to provide emergency medical care or treatment to a minor at any location without the consent of the minor’s parents,” according to one legislative analysis. Invoice.

The concept of parental consent is so important because “it is well established that the interest of parents in the care, custody and control of their children is perhaps the oldest of the recognized fundamental liberty interests protected by Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” according to the analysis.

In 2020, the Florida Legislature approved an abortion bill tied to parental consent for minors seeking abortions. And in the 2021 legislative session, state Rep. Erin Grall pushed for the Parents’ Bill of Rights, which gave parents more power over local school board policies.

An identical bill, HB 1114, in the Florida Senate is sponsored by State Senator Jennifer Bradley, who represents several northeast Florida counties.

“We certainly don’t want a doctor to hold back from providing life-saving help in a situation outside of the hospital,” Bradley said. “So this bill fixes that by allowing doctors to provide emergency medical treatment to minors anywhere such treatment is needed, not just in hospitals or college health departments.”

During the discussion, State Senator Tina Polsky asked Bradley about concerns about the Parents’ Bill of Rights. Polsky, who represents parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties.

“Because we talked about it last year, at the [Parents’] Bill of Rights and some of us had concerns about this particular case just to be clear this bill if passed will override this ban from last year [Parents’] Bill of Rights? Polsky told members of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

Bradley replied: ‘I wouldn’t say it overrides the prohibition, I would say there is currently a legal exception where parental consent is required. And I think that clarifies that exception for parental consent to make sure it’s not just for the hospital but also for the outdoors, the scene of an accident or a sporting event.

Bradley previously explained that the Urgent Care for Young Children initiative came about after doctors expressed concerns about when they could legally treat a child in an emergency situation.

Stephen Winn, executive director of the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association, described a scenario in which a child suffered a serious head injury during a sporting event. “At the moment I cannot treat this child because we do not have parental consent to do so,” he said in a phone conversation.

Winn explained that her association supports the bill.


Portions of this report first appeared on the website of the Florida Phoenix, a nonprofit news organization dedicated to covering state government and Tallahassee politics.