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Doctors fear criminal penalties under new Florida Parents Bill of Rights

Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 6:45 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAP NEWS/WCJB) - Florida family physicians are worried the new Parents Bill of Rights signed into law by the Governor may have some unintended consequences when it comes to providing on-the-spot medical care.

They fear physicians may face misdemeanor charges if they help a child without written parental consent.

Provide emergency medical care to a child and possibly face a year in prison and up to $1,000 fine - That’s the dilemma the Florida Academy of Family Physicians has said doctors now face under the Parents Bill of Rights.

“It truly is the epitome of no good deed goes unpunished,” said Academy President Dr. John Gross.

Dr. Gross said situations where young athletes get injured during a game or even suffer heat stroke are scenarios where medical professionals may find themselves thinking twice before providing care without written parental consent.

“You don’t want that in the back of your mind of, if I help this minor without the parent’s written consent, you know, am I gonna be punished for this good deed?” Said Dr. Gross.

Sponsors of the Parents Bill of Rights have maintained that all the bill really does is make it easier for parents to understand the rights they already had.

“Now we have one section where they’re easily found, easily identifiable,” said Rodrigues.

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Sponsors have also pointed to the fact that parents generally have to sign consent forms prior to their children joining school athletic teams.

And under Florida’s Good Samaritan Law, civil immunity is granted to anyone who in good faith renders emergency care.

But Dr. Gross told us the Academy’s attorneys believe more clarity is needed.

“There’s a lot of grey areas,” said Dr. Gross.

The Florida Academy of Family Physicians also said they need more clarity on how minors with abusive parents may seek medical care without parental consent.

Dr. Gross added that it’s his hope the clarity will come in the form of updated legislation.

As he put it, if the issue has to be resolved in the courts that means someone got hurt.

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