Law of Tort on Trespass/ Assault/ Battery in Relation Patietnt Autonomy

1984 Words Feb 16th, 2008 8 Pages
Outline the law of tort on trespass/assault/battery and discuss one in relation to patient autonomy.

Introduction:
It is said that nurses hold a certain power over patients, which makes the nurse-patient relationship unequal and takes independence away from the patient. In order to allow the patient more independence and freedom of choice, the law has come up with the concept of patient autonomy. This provides the patient with a chance to voice their own opinion and the power to consent to or to refuse medical treatment and it is a legal right of the patient. This is grounded in the constitution as stated in Article 40.3 (1)
‘The state guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate
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Necessity is a legal defence against trespass in emergency medicine. It looks at the concept of using one evil to protect against a worse evil eg. providing CPR to an unconscious patient. If the nurse or doctor waited for consent, the patient could die. Lawful authority is also recognised as a defence against the tort of battery. An example of this is taking a blood sample from someone who is being accused of driving while intoxicated. Self defence is another defence against battery as it is legal to repel force with force provided that no unnecessary force was used. This is not apparent in nursing unless the nurse is attacked by a patient.
Mentally incapacitated adult patients
Many people are diagnosed as having mental and intellectual disabilities and this can sometimes impede on their capacity to make decisions. However not everyone who has these disabilities are unable to understand what their procedure may involve and they may be quite capable of giving informed consent. This was seen with the case In the matter of C (an adult) (refusal of medical treatment) F.D. [1994] where a schizophrenic patient needed a lower leg amputation in order to save his life but he refused the treatment. The hospital intended to override his decision but he was granted a court injunction as he was seen as having the mental capacity to refuse treatment even though he had schizophrenia.
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