Education And Debate

Ethical Debate: Providing treatment against a patient's wishes

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 08 July 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:118
  1. D W Yates, professor of emergency medicinea
  1. aEmergency Medicine Directorate, Salford Royal JHospitals NHS Trust, Hope Hospital, Salford M6 8HD

    A patient who presents voluntarily at an emergency department should be assumed to want treatment. If relatives or friends bring in a patient we can again assume that they want the person in their care to receive attention. The situation is more difficult if a patient is brought in by the police or by a carer from an institution. However, in the two cases reported here the casualty officer would have known that friends or relatives were responsible for each patient's presentation. In such cases the doctor must therefore take into account the broader perspectives of each case rather than the short term demands of a patient.

    Decisions must be taken on the basis of previously agreed, evidence based protocols and should …

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