Physicians get relief from potential legal risks in giving minors emergency care
By Jeff Scott, Esq., FMA General Counsel | Updated April 28, 2022


In 2021, the Florida Legislature passed HB 241(“Parents’ Bill of Rights”) – legislation that for the first time made it a crime for physicians and other healthcare providers to provide medical services to a minor without first obtaining parental consent. As we noted in an FMA article examining Florida’s new parental consent law, this legislation had a host of unintended consequences and unanswered questions.

A year later there are still unanswered questions, but there was one unintended consequence the FMA was able to fix: the de facto prohibition on providing emergency care to a minor without parental consent.

On April 6, 2022, Gov. Ron DeSantis approved HB 817, a major legislative priority for the FMA. While HB 817 does not amend the “Parents’ Bill of Rights” per se, it does take advantage of language in HB 241that requires parental consent for any healthcare service provided to a minor “except as otherwise provided by law.” An existing law that specifically provided otherwise was section 743.064. This statute provided that

    The absence of parental consent notwithstanding, a physician licensed under chapter 458 or an osteopathic physician licensed under chapter 459 may render emergency medical care or treatment to any minor who has been injured in an accident or who is suffering from an acute illness, disease, or condition if, within a reasonable degree of medical certainty, delay in initiation or provision of emergency medical care or treatment would endanger the health or physical well-being of the minor, and provided such emergency medical care or treatment is administered in a hospital licensed by the state under chapter 395 or in a college health service…

Unfortunately, this statute only waived the parental consent requirement for the provision of emergency medical care to a minor provided in a hospital or college health service. Emergency care provided anywhere else, such as the scene of an auto accident or at a sporting facility, would not qualify for the exception. HB 817 was drafted to remove the hospital/college health service limitation and ensure that physicians can provide emergency care to minors in any situation without fear of criminal liability. Thanks to the hard work of Sen. Jennifer Bradley and Rep. Ralph Massullo, MD, HB 817 passed both chambers and goes into effect on July 1, 2022.

Other problems identified in last year’s article remain. The FMA has had conversations with several groups and individual physicians regarding the problems the 2021 legislation presents and will be exploring ways to rectify those problems during the 2023 session. If you are an FMA member who has any problems with this legislation, please contact the FMA Legal Department at (850) 224-6496 or email me at