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Mental capacity and healthcare decisions
Adults with the mental capacity to make decisions may choose to refuse medical treatment even if doing so may result in permanent physical injury or death. Doctors are expected to respect a refusal from an adult with capacity, if the patient is properly informed of the consequences and not being coerced. Refusal of treatment may be due to religious beliefs, possible serious side effects, or because they would prefer to cope rather than accept invasive treatment with possibly limited chances of success.
Is an Advance Directive legally binding?
An Advance Directive is likely to be treated as legally binding if it meets certain criteria. It is still possible to rewrite it at any time as long as capacity remains. Once made, it is important that potential carers are aware of its existence which may include healthcare professionals, next of kin, family and friends and welfare attorneys if there is one.
The Advance Directive must be signed and witnessed. We can prepare the document and help make sure its purpose and contents are fully understood.