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Click here for the full text of this decision The premature infant could not be fully evaluated for medical treatment until birth. Once the infant was born, the physician attending the birth was faced with emergent circumstances. Circumstances like these provide an exception to the general rule imposing liability on a physician for treating a child without consent. FACTS:Karla Miller was admitted to Woman’s Hospital of Texas in premature labor. She developed a condition that could endanger her life if labor were not induced; however, the doctors told Miller and her husband that if labor was induced there’d be little chance of the baby’s survival or, if the baby was alive, it would likely suffer from multiple afflictions. The parents said they did not want the doctors to perform any “heroic” measures and to let “nature take its course.” Nonetheless, when the baby was born at 615 grams, gasping for breath, crying and grimacing, and absent noticeable birth defects, the doctors followed hospital policy that required resuscitation for babies born weighing more than 500 grams who might live. Though she responded positively for a few days, the baby suffered a brain hemorrhage that eventually rendered her severely mentally retarded, afflicted with cerebral palsy and unable to walk, talk or sit up by herself. The Millers sued the doctors and the hospital for battery and negligence. A jury awarded the parents more than $60 million in actual damages, prejudgment interest and exemplary damages, but the 14th Court of Appeals reversed, saying the Natural Death Act, which generally allowed parents to withhold medical treatment for terminal children, did not apply to children with nonterminal impairments, deformities or disabilities. HOLDING:Affirmed. The court holds that a physician, who is confronted with emergent circumstances and provides life-sustaining treatment to a minor child, is not liable for not first obtaining consent from the parents. The principle is an exception to the general rule that a physician commits a battery by providing medical treatment without consent. Though the court recognizes that a doctor cannot be the source of those emergent circumstances, the court points out that in this case, the child could not be evaluated properly until she was born. OPINION:Enoch, J., delivered the court’s opinion; O’Neill and Smith, JJ., did not participate.

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