Consent to medical treatment - proposed changes to the law

Consent to Medical Treatment and Palliative Care (Restrictive Practices) Amendment Bill 2017

Sometimes when a patient presents at a hospital or a clinic they exhibit behaviours that pose a risk to themselves and to others. These challenging behaviours may be caused by:

  • intoxication from drugs and alcohol
  • a condition such as delirium
  • mental illness. 

The patient may not have the capacity to make decisions for them self, and may need assessment and treatment.

SA Health wants to effectively care for these patients and protect them and others from harm. Changes to the Consent to Medical Treatment and Palliative Care Act 1995 (Consent Act) are therefore being proposed by SA Health to ensure that health practitioners have the appropriate legal framework to enable them to protect patients, themselves and others.

Proposed changes

The proposed changes include:

  • Provisions to enable authorised persons to use restrictive practices and provide medical treatment without consent in strictly limited circumstances.
  • A set of criteria that must be met before an authorised person may use their powers.
  • Ensuring authorised persons are medical practitioners or a class of persons to be appointed by the Minister.
  • Providing authorised persons powers to ensure no person is at risk of harm to themselves or other people.
  • Authorised persons will also have the power to provide some treatment without consent to the patients that are the subject of restrictive practices.
  • Authorised persons will be limited to treating the particular medical condition/s that are reasonably believed to be the cause of the risk of harm and any issues arising from the harm. This may include a gash from falling over or a broken hand from punching a wall for example. (These proposed changes do not impact current practice with regard to managing ongoing illnesses or conditions).

For more information including specific powers and criteria, see the Changes to the Consent Act fact sheet (PDF 89KB). A copy of the draft Bill (PDF 63KB) is available.

How can you have your say?

Consultation period closed

SA Health appreciates the feedback provided during the consultation period and is continuing to assess the options for amending the Consent to Medical Treatment and Palliative Care Act 1995. Future updates will be provided on this website.

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