Is it legal for parents to change the dose of their child’s medication against doctor’s orders?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is it legal for parents to change the dose of their child’s medication against doctor’s orders?

A child was prescribed a specific dosage but the parents gave the child different amounts of medication because they did not agree with the doctor’s dosage. The used the doctors prescribed pills but cut them to give the child what they thought she should have they have no medical experience. The child did suffer because of the incorrect dosages given by the parents.

Asked on September 3, 2016 under Personal Injury, Alaska


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If everything went ok--the child was not harmed--then while what they did would be foolish (substituting their judgment for that of a trained physcian), it would not be specifically illegal: the law does not have the affirmative requirement that parents follow the physician prescription or advice. 
However, if parents do something unreasonably careless (negligent) or willfully/intentionally wrong and it harms their child (like giving the wrong dosage of medicine), they can be guilty of child endangerment. So if the child did suffer as a result of this, the parents could be charged with criminal endangerment and/or lose some parental rights (such as having their supervision of their child itself subject to governmental/agency supervision) were this to be reported to the authorities, such as your state's office of child services.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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