Medicine and the Law

What doctors should know when working with surrogate decision-makers who disagree with their treatment plans

Authors

  • D J McQuoid-Mason Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, School of Law, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.7196/SAMJ.2023.v113i9.707

Keywords:

surrogate, decision maker

Abstract

Problems arise when a lawfully appointed surrogate decision-maker wishes to decide on a course of action on behalf of a mentally incompetent patient that is against the patient’s best interests. This may arise: (i) where there is no advance directive, and the decision is made by the surrogate decision-maker on religious grounds; (ii) where the medical practitioners are of the opinion that the surrogate decision-maker’s decision is not in the best interests of the patient; (iii) where the close relatives of the patient do not agree with the decision by the surrogate decision-maker; and (iv) where the surrogate decision-maker asks the medical practitioners to undertake treatment or a procedure on the patient that is unlawful or unethical. Suggestions are made regarding what doctors should do when faced with each of these situations.

Author Biography

  • D J McQuoid-Mason, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, School of Law, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

    Professor of Law
    University of KwaZulu-Natal
    Centre for Socio-Legal Studies
    Hut 11
    Howard College Campus
    University of KwaZulu-Natal
    Durban, KwaZulu-Natal 4043
    SOUTH AFRICA

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Published

2023-09-04

Issue

Section

In Practice

How to Cite

1.
McQuoid-Mason DJ. Medicine and the Law: What doctors should know when working with surrogate decision-makers who disagree with their treatment plans. S Afr Med J [Internet]. 2023 Sep. 4 [cited 2024 Jun. 15];113(9):20-1. Available from: https://samajournals.co.za/index.php/samj/article/view/707

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