Patients Have The Right To Refuse Treatment

Patients who are of sound mind have the right to say that they do not want medical treatment. They can say they will live with the pain and the consequences. The Crandall & Pera Law attorneys who represent Ohio patients know that doctors are bound by Ohio and federal laws. Doctors or nurses who provide treatment against a patient's wishes may be found liable of medical malpractice.

Crandall & Pera Law fights for the rights of all patients, including those who decide that a recommended procedure is not what they want. Our medical malpractice lawyers have obtained jury verdicts and settlements worth millions of dollars for medical malpractice claims.

The Legality Of Patient Refusals

Under Ohio and federal law, you are in charge of your own health. That means you can deny assistance for almost any reason. The most common motives or rationales for a person to refuse treatment include:

  • Religious Beliefs. Some people believe that health decisions should be left to God. Jehovah's Witnesses and Christian Scientists do not approve of blood transfusions. Their religion does not allow the transfusion even if the patient's life could be saved.
  • A Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order. A DNR is an advance directive. It is a request by a patient that the doctor or hospital must not give lifesaving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or medications if the patient goes into cardiac arrest or stops breathing.
  • Guardian Refusal. A guardian has the right to refuse some medical treatments on behalf of a patient. This can include taking the patient off of ventilators or feeding tubes. The case of Terry Schiavo whose husband and legal guardian did not want to keep her on life support but her parents did want life support is an example of why lawyers may be needed to enforce right of refusal decisions.
  • Civil Rights Violations. Patients have the civil right to refuse treatment even if the treatment could help improve or even save the person's life. A doctor cannot overrule a patient's beliefs about medical treatment.

There are exceptions to the right of refusal, however. Parents cannot deny a child medical treatment when the child is admitted to a hospital. Doctors can treat patients who lack the mental capacity to make health decisions, but only when the doctor or the patient's guardian believe it is in the patient's best interest to get the treatment. Lack of mental capacity is a legal decision that may fall on a judge.

Patients who have an advance medical directive prepared when they were of sound mind can also refuse medical treatment. An advance medical directive is an order a patient signs stating what care a doctor can and cannot provide if they cannot make medical decisions for themselves. Hospital patients are often advised by the hospital staff about advance directives.

Did A Doctor Fail To Respect Your Rights?

The laws on refusing treatment and what doctors can and cannot do are very complex. This is especially true when the patient is not mentally competent to make decisions for himself or herself. Our on-staff registered nurses and our medical malpractice lawyers will analyze the case from a medical and legal viewpoint.

For a full review of your rights, please call Crandall & Pera Law at 855-444-6651 or complete our contact form. Our medical and legal teams are here to help and fight for your rights. We have offices in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati and across Ohio and Kentucky.