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Medical Law and Ethics

Medical Law and Ethics (8th edn)

Jonathan Herring
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date: 29 May 2023

p. 1514. Consent to Treatmentlocked

p. 1514. Consent to Treatmentlocked

  • Jonathan HerringJonathan HerringProfessor of Law, Exeter College, University of Oxford


This chapter examines the legal and ethical aspects of treating a patient without consent. It considers the meaning of ‘consent’ and the position of patients who lack the capacity to consent. For children who lack capacity, consent involves a delicate balance between the rights of the children and those of their parents. For adults lacking capacity, the Mental Capacity Act 2005 has emphasized the ‘best interests’ test, but has largely left open the question of how a person’s best interests are to be ascertained. The chapter also considers what weight should be attached to advance decisions (sometimes called living wills).

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