Non-Consensual Medical Treatment: The Legal Justification
Subhash Chandra Singh Sr.
School of Legal Studies, Assam University
October 18, 2013
The IUP Law Review, Vol. III, No. 2, April 2013, pp. 28-35
Patients have a fundamental ethical and legal right to determine as to what happens to their bodies. Valid informed consent is therefore absolutely central to all forms of medical treatments and surgical procedures. Only in limited circumstances, a doctor may proceed without consent. Non-consensual treatment is legal only when the patient is not in a position to have or express any views as to his or her affairs. However, involuntary treatment against the patient’s wishes is very rare, and can only be done when the interests of a third party or the society are involved. Necessity, of course, is a viable defense to any proceedings for nonconsensual treatment where an unconscious patient is involved and there is no known objection to treatment. But a doctor cannot therefore take advantage of unconsciousness to perform procedures which are not essential for the patient’s immediate survival or wellbeing. This paper critically examines the position of patient’s autonomy in the field of medical treatment.
Date posted: October 19, 2013
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