As mother to two small kids and an Emergemcy nurse, I know first hand that thinking about their children going into hospital and what their rights are, is not a topic that most parents would hopefully ever need to give much thought to. Most parents would never wish to experience the fear and worry that accompanies seeing their child through a hospital stay. Recent high profile cases surrounding children with brain injury in particular have brought the conversation about parents rights into the public consciousness.
So what are your rights as a parent of a child who’s receiving medical care? It’s important to remember that your child is a separate being to ourselves and while we’re responsible for them, our rights never come before their rights. The guidance on what you can reasonably expect as a parent changes depending on the age and medical condition of the child but there are some things you can always expect.
As a parent or guardian you can expect to, among other things.
• Be there while your child is being treated unless it would put you or your child at risk (for example, during surgery.)
• Be allowed to stay overnight with your child if you want to.
• Have the time to ask questions about your child’s medical care and be given clear answers
• Be given the name and contact details of someone you can talk to with other questions.
• Be part of the conversation about their care and treatment, with the enough info on pros, cons, risks, side effects or other treatment options you could have.
• Be told at any time if your child’s condition gets worse or changes.
• Be treated with understanding with regards to any behaviour you display because of worry (within reason).
• Be given information about all staff members who are involved in your child’s care.
• Have all details about you and your child kept private (except where the law requires it to be shared) and for any information to only be shared with your permission.
• Be given access to any information kept about your child and family.
• Make a complaint if you are unhappy with the way you have been treated or that your child has been treated.
• Be given a reason and, when appropriate, an apology, if things do not go to plan.
• Make the choice as to whether medical students can be present during your child’s care and treatment.
The things you aren’t allowed to do are demand a certain treatment option from your child’s doctor. You wishes will be taken into consideration but ultimately, the doctor will give you the treatment options they believe are available to your child.
You can refuse a treatment option for your child but be aware, if the doctor believes you are being negligent in doing so, they can still carry out the treatment if they believe it will save your child’s life. You can be charged with negligence too in some situations.
If you believe a doctor has acted negligently in the care of your child though, you can make a claim. Brain injury solicitors, Your Legal Friend, have in depth FAQs about making a claim and as a parent; you are able to make a claim on behalf of your child.