Consequences that generally ensue if a legally competent adult is treated without consent and an adverse event occurs Essay


The law offers legal protection to patients against any exploitation from doctors - Consequences that generally ensue if a legally competent adult is treated without consent and an adverse event occurs Essay introduction. Before any major treatment such as an operation or a transplant on a competent adult, the doctors are required to consult with the patient who will agree to it by signing. If the patient refuses to undergo a certain kind of treatment, the doctors are not in any position to force him or her even if they are convinced that the same will be profitable to them. Patients who are given certain kind of treatment against their will are allowed to present their cases in the court of law to obtain justice. A doctor has no power whatsoever to influence the decision of a patient through coercion, force or threat. No matter the condition of the patient, he or she has the power to determine the kind of treatment that will be appropriate.

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According to the English law, a competent adult is an individual who is above the age of sixteen years. The law requires that such individuals be consulted by doctors before being given any kind of treatment. If the patient is in the right mind to reason and make decisions, he or she is termed as competent and is therefore supposed to agree or disagree with the medical treatment that may be offered. An adult patient whether married or not can not be given treatment by a doctor through the consent of a third party, the spouse or the next of kin may only be available to be a witness but not to make the decision for the patient.

Doctors are required to offer clear information concerning certain treatment to the patient. They are supposed to offer all details of the preferred treatments and the effects that they are likely to be experienced. After this, the patient has to make a decision whether he or she will go for the treatment or not. The consultation process between the doctor and the patient is supposed to be without pressure or coercion of any kind. The law will also hold a doctor responsible for not making the patient understand the treatment process before offering it (Forrester, 2005). There have been cases where the doctors fail to give the full details of a certain treatment procedure. They may necessarily not mention to the patient the full details but only give a summary. The patient may thus agree to undertake the treatment on such summarized report.

According to the English law, such a doctor may win the case, unless the patient clearly explains to the court and convince them that he or she was not aware of the full information. Incase a competent adult is administered with certain kind of treatment and a worse situation occur, the court will look into the situation that led to such a treatment. A doctor will obviously be liable for the losses and damages that happen to the patient and his or her family if it is discovered that he or she actually did not obtain consent from the patient. However, there is a situation in which the patient may be found irresponsible or ignorant of his or her rights.

Patients are generally required to take charge and find out what may be right or wrong for them. They are required to provide full information to the doctors about their medical history. This will generally help the doctors in finding alternative medical treatments that will be suitable for them. Some ignorant patients may not cooperate with their doctors and give them the full responsibility of making treatment decisions (Sanbar, 2004). When a worse situation occurs to such a patient due to the treatment they have received, the doctor is found in trouble. The role of the law is to find justice for both the accuser and the accused. It will therefore critically look into the matter and ensure that justice is obtained. The doctor will win the case if it is found that enough effort was employed by him or her to make the patient reach a decision but failed. The case would be lost if it is found out that he or she took the full responsibility of making the decision when he or she found the patient stubborn. A competent adult is required to demand an explanation from the doctor about any treatment being offered to him or her. The doctor on the other hand is required to give full details of what the treatment will involve and the consequences there after.


Forrester K. (2005): Essentials of Law for Health, Australia: Elsevier Australia Professionals pp 142

Sanbar S. (2004): Legal medicine, United Kingdom: Gulf Professional Publishing pp38


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