Can a doctor force me to get treatment?
Question & AnswerCan a doctor force me to get treatment?
A doctor cannot force you to get that you don’t agree to. A doctor must get your permission before they start any type of treatment. This includes mental health treatment such as counselling, therapy, or medication.
The law says everyone, including people with mental disorders, can give or refuse permission for their health care, unless they can’t understand:
- information about their treatment, and
- what can happen if they get or refuse to get treatment.
A person who can’t understand information about a certain treatment or what can happen if they refuse treatment, is sometimes called an “incapable” patient.
Someone else decides about treatment for an incapable patient. That other person is known as a (SDM). There is more information about SDMs in Steps 2 and 3.
You might be able to make some decisions but not others. For example, you might have both a mood disorder and a psychotic disorder. Depending on how you’re affected, you might be mentally able to decide whether to take your mood disorder medicine. But you might not be able to decide whether to take your separate antipsychotic medicine.
If you have a SDM, it does not mean that the SDM gets to decide everything for you. Your must figure out which treatments you can decide about on your own, and which treatments your SDM should decide for you.
Your doctor must get permission from someone before treating you. This is known as getting “consent”. Your doctor cannot treat you unless you or your SDM agree to it.
The only time a doctor can treat you without consent is in an emergency situation. This is explained in Step 1.
Understand what treatment means
Treatment includes anything a health-care provider, such as a doctor, nurse, therapist, or counsellor, does to affect your health. This includes your mental health.
Some examples of mental health treatment are:
- drugs or medicine
- “reprogramming” courses, which are a type of treatment where you re-train your brain to think differently
- programs that help with alcohol or drug addictions
If your health-care provider wants you to start any of these treatments, they must first get your permission or your SDM’s permission.