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Right to Refuse Treatment - Research Paper Example

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THE RIGHT TO REFUSE TREATMENT Introduction The right to refuse treatment is now well established for some kinds of patients, especially in cases of psychiatric treatment. Different states have adopted various procedures of addressing the right to refuse treatment and for the overriding of this refusal…
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Right to Refuse Treatment
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Right to Refuse Treatment

There is a complex relationship between the right to refuse treatment and the right to treatment. The Right to refuse treatment includes the right to refuse involuntary hospitalization. (Godard, Bloom, Williams, and Faulkner, 1998) More often than not, Nurses find themselves in the front line when the situation arises to deal with patients that refuse medication or treatment. Evidently, a voluntary patient has the right to refuse treatment and must not be treated against his or her consent, with the exception being in situations in which the patient becomes actively to others or to himself. The right to refuse treatment is closely related to the rights of the Mentally Disabled Persons, and every Nurse is required to be familiar with the guidelines laid down in the laws of the State in which they practice, so that they can administer medications properly to committed patients as well involuntary patients. Within the last 30 years, there has been a shift in opinion concerning patients’ right to make their own medical treatment decisions. Currently, the law states that for health-care providers, their patients are to be the primary decision makers in all health care decisions that affect them. (Ciccone, Tokoli, Clements and Gift, 1990). In order for patients to make good decisions about such issues, they must be fully informed about their medical condition. True concerns as to what happens to one’s self are the informed exercise of a choice, and this entails the opportunity to knowledgeably evaluate the options available to the patient, as well as the attendant risks. (Cournos, McKinnon, and Adams, 1988) Some patients refuse treatment due to wrong or delusional thinking about their medication. Some others refuse treatment because of denial of the state of their illness. In some cases, refusals get overridden after being examined by an independent psychiatrist. The cost of such and override procedure is quite significant, both to the health-care system and the patient. Patients’ rights to refuse treatment Patients who possess the capacity to make decisions have the right either to refuse or consent to treatment, even in situations where the patient’s choice can result in his or her death. (Roth, 1982). It is now a well-established fact that every competent adult has the right to refuse unwanted medical treatment (Applebaum, 1988). Thus, competent patients can refuse to start medical treatment, terminate treatment that is already in progress. Such refusals are usually made in advance directives such as a living will. In cases where a patient is deemed incompetent at the time of treatment, then an advance written directive or the patient’s legal surrogate can make the treatment decisions for the patient. (Zito, Craig and Wanderlin, 1991) In this regard, health-care providers must adhere to the patient’s decision, and if they are unable to do so due to moral or other reasons, then there should be an attempt to transfer the patient to other health-care providers that will adhere with the patient’s directives. The United Nations definition of human rights involves those rights that are inherent in the human nature, without which people cannot function as human beings. Section 2(d) of the 1993 Protection of Human Rights Act defines human rights as the rights that relate to liberty, life, dignity and equality of individuals, as provided for in the Constitution or embodied in the ... Read More
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