Potentially incapable patients objecting to treatment: doctors' powers and duties

Paul Dignam
Med J Aust 2014; 201 (5): . || doi: 10.5694/mja14.00552
Published online: 1 September 2014

To the Editor: Sadly, the case of “John”, who perhaps should have been detained earlier, is common.1 Mental health Acts seem to vary with the times, from the narrowness of legalistically defined “dangerousness” criteria to the vagaries of “care” criteria. Abuses and failures at each end repeatedly swing the pendulum back the other way. Some Australian legislation has been adjusted to bring it in line with United Nations recommendations, but those recommendations themselves have a history, being in part an over-reaction to historical abuses of psychiatry and detention around the world. They may not be quite right for us.

  • Paul Dignam

  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, Women's and Children's Health Network, Adelaide, SA.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


remove_circle_outline Delete Author
add_circle_outline Add Author

Do you have any competing interests to declare? *

I/we agree to assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Australia and agree to the Conditions of publication *
I/we agree to the Terms of use of the Medical Journal of Australia *
Email me when people comment on this article

Online responses are no longer available. Please refer to our instructions for authors page for more information.