Education And Debate

An Ethical Dilemma: Commentary: Treatment was not unethical

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 16 November 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1250
  1. David Griffith, consultanta,
  2. Alison Bell, senior registrara
  1. a Department of Healthcare for Older People, Mayday University Hospital, Thornton Heath, Surrey CR7 7YE

    Some features in this report are puzzling and disconcerting, but there are also grounds for reassurance for both patients and clinicians. The problem described is one which, in general terms, will be familiar to many doctors. Accepting that there are occasions when all measures short of drug administration may fail, is it permissible to administer such drugs against the patient's will, and if so should they be given by force or is deceit sometimes an allowable and preferable alternative?

    For mentally competent patients it is clear that in common law no treatment can be given without valid consent. However under part IV …

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