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An adult with full mental capacity has the right to decide whether or not to receive medical treatment (NOT Euthanasia)
19 May 2016

The interesting case of Hunter and New England Area Health Service v A[2009] NSWSC 761…

Mr A developed renal failure and was kept alive by mechanical ventilation and kidney dialysis in hospital. The hospital later became aware of a document drafted by Mr A stating he would refuse renal dialysis. The hospital sought a declaration to effect his wishes.

The Court recognised the supremacy of the right of the individual to choose what is done with their body. An adult with full mental capacity has the right to decide whether or not to receive medical treatment, even where they would otherwise die.

An “Advance Care Directive” that unambiguously states a person does not wish to receive certain medical treatment must be respected. It would be battery to otherwise administer this treatment, regardless of the reasons for refusing treatment.

This is NOT euthanasia. The Court clearly stated this is not recognition of a “right to die”. It is a right to make a choice to refuse future treatment.





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