Under proposed law, no emergency care for kids without parental consent

Published: May 20, 2021 8:05 PM EDT

A bill nearing law in Florida would make it criminal for a doctor or trained medical professional to step in and help an underaged child in an emergency without parental consent.

That means if your child is in a life-threatening medical situation and you’re not around, a doctor wouldn’t be allowed to step in and save your child.

Doctors would have to break their oath or break the law, according to the Florida Medical Association and eight other professional organizations.

They fear the so-called “Parents’ Bill of Rights” (HB 241) will stop doctors and nurses from taking lifesaving actions outside an emergency room. If they do, they would face a first-degree misdemeanor.

Kids in sports play hard and they can get hurt – sometimes seriously – so what happens if you’re not there? Right now, a doctor or nurse who happens to be there can treat your child, but medical experts believe that would change if Gov. Ron DeSantis signs what lawmakers call the “Parents’ Bill of Rights.”

“Parents are not always there, and having something for them to sign or write, give written consent on, is not always available; that delay could mean significant harm or even death to the child,” said Dr. Steven Kailes, vice president of the Duval County Medical Society.

State Sen. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, sponsored the measure (SB 582) designed to define the rights of parents when it comes to health care and education. While doctors in emergency rooms, university health facilities, EMTs and paramedics will still be able to perform emergency care without consent, no one else would be able to. There would be no more urgent calls of “Is there a doctor in the house?”

“I have the Hippocratic Oath ingrained in me to provide care when it is clear that is needed. And this bill gets in the way of that,” said Dr. John Gross, president of the Florida Academy of Family Physicians.

“As a physician, you will be incarcerated, most likely, and having committed a first-degree misdemeanor, if you don’t obtain proper consent.”

Leaders from the state’s largest physician associations wrote a letter to DeSantis, asking him to veto the bill and warning him of the “potential for significant repercussions.”

“Can you imagine your child needs CPR? And I turn to the mother and say, ‘I’d like to help but could you first sign this for me before we do?’ So, it’s just impractical? And I think that, I don’t think those sort of scenarios were taken into consideration when the bill was passed,” Kailes said.

For two days, WINK News tried to speak with Rodrigues but was unable to. DeSantis has not indicated whether he will sign the measure. If he does, the bill would take effect July 1.