Biomedical Ethica

In: Other Topics

Submitted By choups
Words 1586
Pages 7
The Case of Scott Starson

Biomedical Ethics
Group 6
February 26th, 2013

The decision to treat any patient by force poses many questions. There are very few occasions where one might imagine treating a competent person in defiance of his or her express wishes. The moral principle of respect for autonomy coupled with statutes that protect patient rights forbid forced treatment. Yet there remain medical professionals who have disagreed with a patient’s choice and take the matter to court. When considering patient rights it’s important to define the difference between refusing a blood transfusion for religious reasons and refusing medications that affect one’s mental health. A case that highlights the difficulty of determining competence is that of Scott Starson. Starson, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, was committed to a psychiatric hospital after having uttered death threats. There, he refused any medication for his disorder as he claimed it would ruin his career as a theoretical physicist. This was a decision that professionals disagreed with. However, the Supreme Court of Canada deemed Mr. Starson competent and able to make his own medical decisions. The main topic of concern is whether doctors should be allowed to impose treatment on a competent patient. Firstly, I will argue the point that every individual should have the right to choose their own medical treatments. Conversely, that those who suffer with a mental health issue cannot always appreciate and make the correct decision when it comes to medical treatments offered to them.
A competent patient should have the right to make their own medical decisions. This statement begs the question – what is competence? Scott Starson was deemed competent, by the Supreme Court, although initially the Ontario Capacity and Review Board upheld the decision that Starson was incompetent. Who is right? To…...

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