Medical Decisions

Many parents believe that as "a parent" they have the authority to make decisions on behalf of their children - especially when it comes to medical treatments.

After 22 years of supporting a person who has an intellectual disability - I learned that as "person responsible" for my son - 

I have the right to CONSENT but not to REFUSE medical treatment

If I wish to refuse the medical treatment being recommended by a medical practioner - then there is a process to be followed.

The process is described in a flowchart published by the Office of the Public Advocate -

Can your adult patient consent?

In summary - the process for parents is as follows -

  1. Fill in the OPA form - "REFUSAL of TREATMENT CERTIFICATE - Agent or Guardian of Incompetent Person"
  2. Take it to the doctor and ask them to complete the verification section, and terminate treatment
  3. If the doctor refuses to sign the verification then the doctor must -
  4. complete a form "SECTION 42M"
  5. send a copy of the form to -
    1. the person responsible and
    2. VCAT
  6. Within 7 days of recieving the Section 42M from the doctor the "person responsible" must - apply to VCAT to request a hearing.
  7. VCAT may then organise a hearing and will then decide whether or not to - 
    1. give consent to the practitioner to proceed or
    2. up hold the views of the person responsible

If I dont follow the process then treatment can proceed without my consent. 

It is important to note that there are some cases where medical treatment (eg administrtion of medication within the prescribed limits) can proceed without the need to seek consent from the "person responsible".

For more information, and copies all of the forms, please contact The Office of the Public Advocate.


Updated September 2010