Show Summary Details
Page of

Treatment Refusal 

Treatment Refusal
Treatment Refusal

Ariana Nesbit

, Steven K. Hoge

, and Debra A. Pinals

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD MEDICINE ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Medicine Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 07 August 2020

Management of treatment refusal can be legally and ethically complicated. Patients may refuse various types of treatment, including medications, group and individual psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and surgical procedures. Historically, patients with mental illness have had limited rights to refuse treatment. This chapter explores the factors that led to an increased recognition of these rights and provides an overview of current legal approaches to the adjudication of treatment refusal. It focuses primarily on the refusal of antipsychotic medications in inpatient settings, because many of the original court cases and much of the literature and research pertain to this issue. However, restrictions on the administration of antipsychotic medication over the patient’s objection extend beyond inpatient settings to nursing homes, medical and surgical inpatient services, and psychiatric outpatient settings. The chapter also discusses refusal of ECT and presents recommendations for the clinical care of a patient who refuses treatment.

Access to the complete content on Oxford Medicine Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.