Autonomy, Guardianship and Mental Disorder: One Problem, Two Solutions
22 Pages Posted: 19 May 2003
The law in England and Wales governing both the provision of medical care in the case of adults with incapacity and the provision of care and treatment for mental disorder presents serious problems for the principle of patient autonomy. The adult with incapacity has no competence either to consent to or to refuse medical treatment but the law provides no statutory structure for substitute decision making on that adult's behalf. On the other hand the law does allow a person with mental disorder to be treated for that disorder despite his or her competent refusal. The nature of these inconsistencies is considered and the implications which flow from the singling out of mental disorder are examined with reference to experience in two Australian jurisdictions. The current proposals for reform of the Mental Health Act are then considered in the light of the conclusions drawn.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation