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Online ISSN 1827-174X
Delbon P. 1, Dianiskova S. 2, Laffranchi L. 3, Conti A. 1
1 Centre of Bioethics Research, (with contribution of Fondazione Poliambulanza), Forensic Science Department, University of Brescia, Italy;
2 Department of Orthodontics, Medical Faculty, Slovak Medical University, Bratislava, Slovakia;
3 Dental School, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy
The increasing emphasis placed on patients’ rights, in dentistry as well as in other areas, is also having repercussions on the structure of the relationship between health care staff, the under-age patient and his /her parents. The authors reflect about the decision-making process when the patient is a minor in the field of dentistry and underline the role of the parties involved (dentist, parents, under-age patient) in different circumstances (e.g. ordinary care or non-routine care; urgent situations; conflict between parents; refusal of the parents; disagreement between the parents and the child, refusal of the under-age patient; etc.). The Law must first ensure that the minors’ needs for protection are met by awarding their parents the power and duty to care for them and, thus, also to take health care decisions in their interest. At the same time, domestic legislation and international legislation supports the need to give greater weight to minors’ opinions as they approach the age of majority and, therefore, as they acquire a certain degree of maturity. The rights of under-age patients are safeguarded by actively involving them in the decision-making process, with particular reference to their right to information and right to be heard, to the extent that their age and understanding allow, with due consideration to the specific situation.