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the right to refuse treatment

enita enita (New) New

do patients have the right to refuse treatment even if they are confused

it depends.... were they ruled to be without capacity?

and, then... it depends... why are they saying no?

but, usually, it goes if you say no to a tx, then the tx isint done... its a legal/ethical/moral thing


I don't know the legal answer.

Otherwise, at my hospital , we take it on a case by case basis.

How confused?

Refusing to take a pill?? Refusing lab draws? Refusing NG tube?

Refusing a blood transfusion, an x-ray??

Who brought them in?? Why are they there??

Are they refusing a little bit? Or cursing, threatening, shouting, and adamant???? (those usually get THEIR way.)

Some, we wear down with a variety of approaches so we can treat them, as it is in their best interest. Paranoid people are pretty bad, also drunks, and someone who has never been hospitalized before, and teens "acting out" for parents.

where i used to work the md usally ordered a psych consult and if they were found competent, but kept refusing treatment they were discharged. also we had them sign a refusal of treatment statement.


Specializes in Pain Mgmt, ICU nursing, L/D Nursing. Has 20 years experience.

At my facility if the patient is totally confused we defer to the family. If no family then we treat the patient. We have a legal obligation to treat the patient if they are incapable of making the decision themselves unless the family defers the treatment if they are involved.

This is why we get so many DT patients. The police find them on the side of the road, motel room, etc and they are legally obligated to bring them to the hospital for medical treatment...

Gosh whatever happened to "drunk tanks":):) The frequent flyers that my unit gets (b/c they get put on Ativan Gtt's that do diddly squat even at 20mg/hr) don't want to be rehabilitated, god knows we've tried, so why make them go through that he^^ and put us through it also?


Specializes in Corrections, Psych, Med-Surg. Has 15 years experience.

"How confused?"

Right. What normal person wouldn't be confused, being put through today's assembly-line healthcare wringer? People in and out of the room without introductions or explananations, noise, chatter, and banging/thumping noises in the hallways day and night, 30-second visits by docs previously unknown, multitudes asking the same questions over and over, etc.

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