Can a doctor force me to get treatment?

2. Understand substitute decision-making

Someone else has to decide about your if your doctor thinks that you can't understand:

  • information about your treatment, and
  • what can happen if you get or refuse to get treatment.

A person who cannot understand information about their 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).

You may be able to choose your SDM. If you cannot, the law says who will become your SDM. Step 3 has more information on this.

Your SDM has the right to agree to or refuse treatment for you. If your SDM cannot or will not do this, then someone else becomes your SDM and they get to decide.

Your SDM has the right to get all the information that you would normally get about your treatment.

If before you became incapable you told your SDM about your health-care wishes, then your SDM must do what you wanted.

If you didn't tell your SDM what you prefer, then your SDM must decide based on what they think is best for you. Your SDM must keep in mind everything they know about you, including what you believe and the things that are important to you.

Your SDM cannot decide for you if your mental health improves and your doctor thinks that you now understand:

  • information about your treatment, and
  • what can happen if you get or refuse to get treatment.

If your doctor says you're not able to make decisions, you can challenge their decision. See Step 4 for more details. Usually, you can only challenge it once every 6 months.

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