It is for the patient to decide whether or not to receive medical treatment even if refusal means his or her life would be at risk. It is the patient’s right of self-determination.
A mentally competent patient can refuse life-saving treatment if they want to.
Any refusal of treatment must be clear, voluntary and unambiguous in order to be effective.
In case of uncertainly, a prudent medical practitioner should refer the matter to the Court. Unless there are clear terms/words indicating refusal of treatment, the Court would normally rule in favour of the preservation of life.
If a patient issued an advance directive refusing consent to medical treatment which, properly construed, was to apply even where that person was in no fit state to give or refuse consent, that directive has to be respected. The patient must have been competent when executing the advance directive for it to be effective.
There is currently no legislation governing advance directives.
For more details about advance directives, please click here.