Your Rights

Declining Treatment

Generally, every individual is entitled to refuse medical treatment. A legally competent person has a right to choose what occurs with respect to his or her own person. For such persons, the right to refuse treatment exists, regardless of the reasons for making the choice whether they are rational, irrational, unknown or even non-existent. Forcing medical treatment on a competent patient who has validly refused such treatment could be tantamount to an assault or battery.

However, if the patient's circumstances change significantly, any prior refusal of medical treatment may not remain valid and may need to be reviewed with the patient. Similar to consent to treatment, refusal of treatment may be expressed or implied and may be in writing or given verbally. The refusal of treatment by a patient should also be recorded in detail and in writing in the medical record or the medical practitioner’s case notes, and where possible, signed and dated by the patient.