Legal and Ethical Aspects of Refusing Medical Treatment After a Suicide Attempt: The Wooltorton Case in the Australian Context
Ryan, Christopher J
The Medical journal of Australia 2010 Aug 16; 193(4): 239-42
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 treatment. When it is not possible or is inappropriate to treat under mental health legislation, the person's competence to refuse treatment should be assessed. If the patient is definitely competent, his or her decision to refuse treatment should probably be honoured. If an incompetent patient carries a document refusing treatment, clinicians must determine the validity of that document as an advance care directive - including whether or not the patient was competent at the time it was written. The law around the right to refuse treatment after a suicide attempt remains unclear and, if uncertain of what to do, clinicians should provide urgently required life-saving treatment and simultaneously seek an urgent court order to clarify how they should proceed. In all but extraordinary circumstances, a patient who refuses treatment after a suicide attempt can and should be given life-saving treatment, under either mental health legislation or the common law concept of necessity.
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Refusing Medical Treatment After Attempted Suicide: Rethinking Capacity and Coercive Treatment in Light of the Kerrie Wooltorton Case Callaghan, Sascha; Ryan, Christopher James (2011-06)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 ...