Refusing Medical Treatment After Attempted Suicide: Rethinking Capacity and Coercive Treatment in Light of the Kerrie Wooltorton Case
Ryan, Christopher James
Journal of law and medicine 2011 Jun; 18(4): 811-9
The inquest into the death of Kerrie Wooltorton in Norfolk, England, ignited extensive public debate on the scope of the common law right to refuse medical treatment where a patient is distressed, depressed or actively suicidal. In Australia, a patient's wishes need not be honoured if the patient is not legally competent, if he or she falls within the ambit of the compulsory treatment provisions in the mental health legislation, and possibly also if there is a recognised public interest in preventing suicide which is sufficient to override the patient's choice. This article argues that decisions about whether to give medical treatment despite an apparent refusal should be based solely on a determination of the patient's competence to make their own choice. However, the test for legal competence must take into account the person's agency in making the decision, and decisions which will effectively end the person's life must be shown to be thought through.
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Legal and Ethical Aspects of Refusing Medical Treatment After a Suicide Attempt: The Wooltorton Case in the Australian Context Ryan, Christopher J; Callaghan, Sascha (2010-08-16)When a patient presents to hospital after a suicide attempt and appears to refuse treatment, clinicians should first assess if he or she should be treated under mental health legislation, regardless of competence to refuse ...